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COVID-19 Shakes Up Southern Africa’s Mining Sector

Sim Tack
Senior Global Analyst , Stratfor
Apr 22, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
People wearing masks gather in a granite quarry in Antananarivo, Madagascar, for an Easter celebration while practicing social distancing on April 12, 2020. The capital city has been on lockdown since March 23 to curb the spread of COVID-19.

People wearing masks gather in a granite quarry in Antananarivo, Madagascar, for an Easter celebration while practicing social distancing on April 12, 2020. The capital city has been on lockdown since March 23 to curb the spread of COVID-19.

(RIJASOLO/AFP via Getty Images)

Current COVID-19 disruptions may provide only a short-term challenge for Southern Africa's lucrative mining operations. But they will come just ahead of a longer-term blow to revenue caused by the pandemic-induced global recession and the subsequent drops in demand for mineral resources. After soaring throughout 2019, platinum prices, for example, have already dropped roughly 20 percent since the beginning of the year. Meanwhile, the world’s largest producer of platinum, South Africa, has been forced to shutter its massive mining sector in the hopes of containing its own fast-evolving outbreak. Some countries such as Tanzania and Namibia have managed to benefit from the new influx of export traffic afforded by South Africa’s COVID-19 crisis. But it may be only a matter of time before widespread outbreaks force more mining firms across the region to choose between securing their profit lines or the safety of their workers. Regardless of the direct health impacts, however, steep losses...

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