Zambia copper exports delayed following Tanzania border closure

Zambia has temporarily shut its border with Tanzania as part of its efforts to quell the spread of COVID-19, delaying its main copper exports via Dar es Salaam, a minister revealed yesterday.

President Edgar Lungu directed the closure on Sunday after the border town of Nakonde recorded 76 cases of COVID-19 – the highest number registered by Africa’s second largest copper producer in a single day.

“We have a good number of trucks that need to be cleared to go out of Zambia,” Muchinga province Minister Malozo Sichone told Reuters by phone from Nakonde.

Sichone said priority would be given to trucks entering Zambia with essential goods such as fuel, medical supplies and food but was not able to confirm for how long the border would remain closed.

“What will inform us is the extent to which we disinfect the town and test people,” Sichone said.

As of yesterday, there have been 441 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Zambia and seven deaths. Meanwhile in Tanzania there have been 509 cases and 21 confirmed deaths, although the state has been criticised for infrequent reporting.

Earlier this month, mining giant Glencore confirmed it would resume operations at its Zambian subsidiary Mopani Cooper Mines (MCM) for three months only, following a dispute with the government.