Smacked by Ebola, low prices, West Africa iron mining faces reshape

lunes 29 de septiembre de 2014 13:22 GYT

* Iron ore prices down 40 percent this year

* Ebola pushes up costs, disrupts logistics

* Some miners struggle to refinance loans, need cash

By Silvia Antonioli and Karen Rebelo

LONDON/BANGALORE, Sept 29 (Reuters) - Plunging prices and the spread of Ebola are reshaping the iron ore mining sector in West Africa where some companies risk sinking if they cannot find new partners, lenders or owners.

West African iron ore miners already are in a critical situation due to a 40 percent plummet in prices this year which is making most mines unprofitable and projects hard to finance.

Costs are also rising, partly due to measures to fend off the Ebola epidemic that has so far killed about 3,000 people in the region. The virus is also making it difficult to move workers and goods and threatens to disrupt logistics.

Shares of companies such as Sierra Leone-focused African Minerals and London Mining have plummeted by 89 and 91 percent respectively, versus a 4 percent fall of the UK-listed mining sector this year.

"It's pretty devastating. The perception of West African mining has completely changed. At the moment we don't see any upside," said Ed Bowie, director of Altus Capital, a fund focused on medium and small mining companies.   Continuación...