Saturday 29 June 2019

Collapse at gold mine kills at least 43 in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Forty three miners have been confirmed dead and many more are feared to by buried under rubble at a copper and cobalt mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo, following a collapse on Thursday 27 June 2019. The incident happened at the Glencoe-owned KOV Open Pit Mine near Kolwezi in Lualaba Province, where artisanal miners (small scale miners armed with hand tools) had entered part of the site to dig into the sides of old terraces surrounding the mine, an operation which apparently weakened the mine wall, leading to the collapse.

Terraces at the KOV Open Pit Mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Mining Review Africa.

Like may other African countries, the Democratic Republic of Congo has granted concessions to mining companies in areas where small-scale artisanal mining has traditionally helped to supplement the incomes of subsistence farmers. This provides an important source of revenue for governments, however, little of the money from such projects tends to reach local communities, which often leads to ill feeling and attempts to continue mining clandestinely, which can result in tension or even clashes between mine operators and local populations.

The Democratic Republic of Congo one of the world's largest producer of precious metals, but benefits little from the industry. The country has suffered years of political instability and has extremely poor infrastructure, is heavily indebted and has a chronic corruption problem, which means that little of the wealth generated from the industry makes it into government coffers, and that which does is unlikely to be spent on development or other projects likely to benefit the population. These problems are made worse by a series of conflicts in the area, which plays host to rebel groups opposed to the Congolese government and militiamen that fled the 1994 conflict in Rwanda and have never returned. In addition the area has suffered incursions from several neighbouring countries, mostly with an official purpose of defending borders against Congo's instability, but with a strong interest in the mining industry. Militia groups linked to neighbouring states also operate in the area, and again are said to be involved in illegal mining.

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