Mining CEOs call for action against Ebola

A health officer at a state hospital in Kenema, Sierra Leone on Aug. 23, 2014.
Mohammed Elshamy | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
A health officer at a state hospital in Kenema, Sierra Leone on Aug. 23, 2014.

A group of 11 chief executive officers of international mining companies working in West Africa are calling for fewer travel restrictions in the face of the Ebola epidemic.

"We are understandably concerned about the impact of the Ebola virus on affected countries' economies and the well-being of their people, which is being compounded by subsequent decisions and actions that affect travel to and trade with the region," a joint statement said.

The letter was signed by ArcelorMittal's Lakshmi Mittal, London Mining's Graeme Hossie, Newmont Mining's Gary Goldberg and Randgold's Mark Bristow, among others.

The letter lists two demands. One is to end to travel bans, which have been instituted by African flight hubs South Africa and Kenya to lock out visitors from Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, the hardest-hit countries. The second was for more international coordination on the crisis.

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"Ebola is without doubt a horrific virus. But it is a virus that with the right understanding, precautions and processes in place should be avoidable and containable," the executives said. "Without the support of the international community the situation for these economies, many of whom are only beginning to return to stability after decades of civil war, will be even more catastrophic."

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The CEOs noted that the respective companies were "continuing where possible with normal operations" in the affected areas. Ebola has killed nearly 2,000 people, most of them in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. The virus has also spread to Nigeria and Senegal but it is relatively contained in those countries. An unrelated Ebola strain has also been identified in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The CEOs praised President Barack Obama for his recent announcement that the U.S. military would lend its support to the region. "(That's) exactly the type of action that is required," the letter said.

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—By CNBC's Lawrence Delevingne