MAC/20: Mines and Communities

DR Congo mine collapse kills at least 60

Published by MAC on 2012-08-21
Source: Guardian

Congo mine collapse kills at least 60

Miners were working 100 metres below surface when shaft collapsed in Pangoyi, Democratic Republic of Congo

David Smith


16 August 2012

At least 60 people have been killed in a landslide at a remote Congolese gold mine.

The shaft collapsed on Monday in Pangoyi, a remote corner of north-east Democratic Republic of the Congo, a local official, Faustin Drakana Kananga, told Associated Press. The miners were in an area about 100 metres below the surface at the time of the accident.

The UN-sponsored Radio Okapi said the accident occurred after illegal miners rushed to be the first in the bottom of the pit but the sides collapsed, burying them all.

Rescue efforts have been hampered because the dense jungle area is controlled by a militia group.

A local government official told the station the mine had been abandoned after clashes between the Congolese army and a militia led by Paul Sadala, known as Morgan.

The mining companies AngloGold Ashanti and Randgold operate in the region, known to be rich in tin and gold.

Hundreds of thousands of men and women in Congo turn to artisanal mines out of desperation, due to poverty and few job opportunities. The practice is unregulated and often lethal.

Accidents are common in open-pit mines, where there are few, if any, safety precautions. Some miners are forced to work by some of the armed groups and government soldiers who illegally profit from the massive mineral resources, which in turn fuel further conflict in the vast, war-torn country.

Congo is rich in coltan, used in mobile phones and other consumer electronics, and cassiterite, or tin ore.

Last week, a report praised Apple, Intel, Motorola Solutions and Hewlett-Packard for making progress towards ending the use of "blood minerals" in their products. But the Washington-based Enough Project put Nintendo at the bottom of its conflict minerals ranking and criticised HTC, Sharp, Nikon and Canon for moving too slowly.

"Nintendo has made no known effort to trace or audit its supply chain," the report said. "Sharp, HTC, Nikon and Canon are taking initial steps to join industry efforts, but their progress remains far behind industry leaders."



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