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Ebola outbreak in Guinea forces miners to lock down operations

Global mining companies, including Brazilian iron ore giant Vale (NYSE:VALE), are locking down operations in Guinea and evacuating some international staff as the death toll from suspected cases of the deadly Ebola virus there has already hit 84.

According to data from the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO), five new suspected infections were reported Monday, which has brought the total to 134 in less than two months.

Medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) warned earlier this week the epidemic was spreading out to neighbouring West African countries, with suspected cases of one of the world’s most lethal infectious diseases reported in neighbouring Liberia and Sierra Leone, and other two from Guinea quarantined in Gambia.

The outbreak of the deadly virus has been concentrated around the country’s southeast, adjacent to Guinea’s lucrative iron ore reserves, forcing mining companies to take precautionary action.

“Everyone is practicing precautionary strict hygiene but there has been no real impact on production so far,” a senior executive at a mining company told Reuters.

Vale has already removed its six international employees and put its local workers on leave.

The Ebola virus spreads by contact, and victims present symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting and external bleeding. No cure or vaccine has yet been found for the disease.

The West African nation is also the world’s top exporter of bauxite, the raw material used in aluminum production, and has rich deposits gold.