South Africa and the DRC confine themselves, with consequences for the mining sector

Audio 02:05

Next Thursday, confinement in South Africa is imposed on the whole country. for 21 days, the country will stop its mining production, only the coal mines will continue to produce, which is the main source of electricity in the country REUTERS / Siphiwe Sibeko

By: Claire Fages Follow

The Democratic Republic of the Congo declared a state of emergency against the coronavirus on Tuesday evening. The day before, South Africa had decided on confinement for three weeks. With different implications on the extraction activities in these two countries, mining giants of Africa.


Next Thursday at midnight, the mines of South Africa will stop their production and for 21 days, the duration of confinement imposed on the whole country by the government of Cyril Ramaphosa. It is an unprecedented historic decision in this great mining country in Africa. But it was deemed essential to curb the spread of the coronavirus, given the overcrowding of workers in mines, many of which are underground in South Africa.

Stopped mines except for coal

The deposits will be put under maintenance to prevent, for example, that they are flooded. Only the coal mines will continue to produce to supply what is still the main source of electricity in the country.

Salaries of South African miners

The mining sector weighs 25% in the South African GDP, underlines Claude Katemba, the director of the Southern Africa Resource Watch, joined by Rfi. And it employs half a million people, who find themselves unemployed. The question will now arise of the financing of their salaries which must be maintained. Mining companies may be putting their hands in their pockets to help the state.

In DRC production is not interrupted, for the moment

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, it is not yet known whether the state of emergency decreed by Félix Tshisekedi will have such drastic consequences. In the DRC, the mining sector is even more strategic: it contributes 80% to government revenues. Only certainty, the connections between Kinshasa, the capital, and the provinces are interrupted. Two mining provinces, Haut Katanga and Lualaba, had already decided Monday to close their borders for 48 hours after two suspected cases of coronavirus.

Hygiene measures

But without consequences on the production of copper and cobalt, according to the Congolese subsidiary of Glencore, joined by Rfi. Kamoto Copper Company notes only " a temporary stop for the export of cobalt hydroxide and copper cathode ". She said she had " increased hygiene measures: disinfected work areas, hand washing facilities, social distancing, taking temperature on site, restricting travel from areas outside Kolwezi ... "

It remains to be seen whether the prolonged border restrictions will allow the companies to continue producing and therefore employing personnel in these mining regions of the Congo.

Newsletter With the Daily Newsletter, find the headlines directly in your mailbox


Download the app


  • South Africa
  • Ground floor
  • Raw materials
  • Economy Africa