Botswana barred entry to anyone traveling from the Democratic Republic of Congo to prevent an Ebola outbreak in that country from spreading, blocking shipments of copper from Africa’s biggest producer of the metal.
Botswana’s Department of Immigration & Citizenship instructed its personnel to prohibit travelers from entering the country in an Aug. 25 directive obtained today. Hakuna Matata Sarl, Congo’s biggest hauler of copper and cobalt produced by companies including Freeport McMoRan Inc. (FCX) and Jinchuan Group (2362), said at least 20 of its trucks had been halted at Kazungula on Botswana’s border with Zambia.
“All trucks entering from the Democratic Republic of Congo are being denied entry into Botswana,” Hakuna Matata General Manager Frederic Gilson said today in a phone interview from Ndola in northern Zambia. “We are busy diverting all our trucks to Zimbabwe through Livingstone. Zimbabwe is still open.”
Congo was the world’s sixth-largest producer of copper last year, according to U.K.-based commodity-research company CRU Group, and the largest producer of cobalt, a mineral used in rechargeable batteries. Most of Congo’s copper is transported about 3,500 kilometers (2,175 miles) by road from Katanga province to South Africa’s port city of Durban, or east to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s commercial capital.