MAC/20: Mines and Communities

DRC: Pollution of the Luilu river by Sicomines damages communities in Kolwezi

Published by MAC on 2016-09-23

Discharged chemicals caused burning of crops, death of fish and unsustainable living conditions

In a statement date September 19 2016, African Resources Watch (AFREWATCH), “l’Initiative Bonne Gouvernance et Droits Humains (IBGDH)” and the “Association pour le Développement Durable de Luilu (ADDL)” expressed their deep concern following the pollution of the Luilu river by SICOMINES, a copper and cobalt mining joint venture between Chinese companies and Congolese state miner Gecamines.

According to the statement, toxic chemicals were discharged in the river causing loud explosions and fires, affecting over 8000 people living in Yenge, Sapatelo, Nowa, Mpambeji, Sept, and Tshibalenji villages. Following a governor’s press release broadcasted by local television channels, populations were prohibited from using the Luilu River waters.

The Luilu river polluted by SICOMINES causes enormous damages on local communities in Kolwezi


Lubumbashi, September 19, 2016

In pursuing their mission of advancing human rights, African Resources Watch (AFREWATCH), “l’Initiative Bonne Gouvernance et Droits Humains (IBGDH)” and the “Association pour le Développement Durable de Luilu (ADDL)”, express their deep concern following the Luilu river pollution by “Sino-Congolaises des Mines” (SICOMINES)[1] and request an investigation that can provide a deep insight into accountabilities and reparation for victims.

On September 7th 2016, SICOMINES discharged toxic chemicals in the Luilu river causing loud explosions which could be heard miles away along the river. These substances caused serious damages and exposed over 8000 people living in Yenge, Sapatelo, Nowa, Mpambeji, Sept, and Tshibalenji villages to permanent acre odours and huge smoke.

Despite the lack of an independent investigation that could clarify the negative impacts of chemicals, the following damages were noted: burning of food crops; death of fish due to ponds and the Luilu river contamination; unsustainable living conditions of children, pregnant women, adults and old persons; headache and dizziness; bleeding and diarrhea. 

Following the governor’s press release of September 8th and 9th 2016 broadcasted by local channels (Palmier and Manika),  and the talks between one SICOMINES’ official and the leader of Nowa village on September 7th 2016, populations were prohibited from using the Luilu River waters.

On Monday September 12th 2016, a tripartite[2] meeting was held at the governor’s office gathering state officials, the Luilu civil society and the SICOMINES delegation which resulted by the establishment of a joint commission to assess the situation. Unfortunately the duration of this commission was not determined.

While the investigation commission has started working, there is still no significant assistance to victims from provincial officials and SICOMINES.

NGOs emphasize that the discharge of SICOMINES chemicals is in discordance with articles 49 and 57  of the Congolese environmental protection Act that “prohibits the following actions: detention, deposition or dumping of waste at inappropriate places that may causes acre odours, and damage to the  environment, health and public security”; “it is prohibited to discharge waste or products that may cause water pollution or degrade the quality of the surface or the deep of a river, may it be continental or maritime, destroy biological resources and coastal ecosystem and, be a threat to health. Waste disposal into water means any discharge, immersion and direct or indirect deposition of solid, liquid or gaseous chemicals. They are prescribed by the law …”  [3]

Given the above, AFREWATCH, IBGDH and ADDL recommend to:

  1. a) the national government and the provincial parliament to:
  1. b) SICOMINES[4] to:
  1. c) Local NGOs to:
  1. d) Local communities and victims to:



AFREWATCH: Emmanuel Umpula,, +243 818577577

IBGDH: Donatien Kambola,, +243 99 48 34 158 

ADDL: Patrick Mbombi,  +243 821084991

[1] SICOMINES is a partnership that was created on December 28th 2008 between the DRC represented by Gécamines with 32% of shares and a group of Chinese companies with 68% of shares.

[2] The tripartite meeting held at the governor’s office was presided by the governor; participants included: provincial minister of environment, the mayor of the Kolwezi, the Counsellor of Dilala suburb, Luilu civil society members, a SICOMINES delegation headed by the CEO.

[3] Articles 49 & 57 of the 2011 Congolese environmental protection Act.

[4] Article 12 OP Cit, “the cost related to prevention and reduction of pollution and the reparation of affected sites are supported by the polluter”

China to build $660m hydroelectric plant in DR Congo

GCR Staff -

17 June 2016

China’s Sinohydro and China Railway Group will finance a $660m hydroelectric plant in southeastern Democratic Republic of Congo to ease the electricity deficit in this key copper-mining region.

The 240-megawatt dam in the town of Busanga will power Sicomines, a nearby copper and cobalt mining joint venture between the Chinese companies and Congolese state miner Gecamines.

DR Congo is Africa’s largest miner of copper.

Sicomines is the mining side of a $6bn minerals-for-infrastructure deal signed in 2007, under which Sinohydro and China Railway Group pledged to build $3bn worth of infrastructure in return for a 68% stake in the mine.

According to Reuters, Moïse Ekanga, executive secretary of the Congolese government office in charge of the deal, said this week that Sicomines would require 170 MW from the Busanga dam to run at full capacity, while the remaining 70 MW would feed the national grid.

Congo’s southeastern mining region has an electricity deficit of about 900 MW, a government statement said.

“This agreement will help jumpstart energy development in the DRC after the recent slowdown due to falling commodity prices,” said Ekanga, adding Mauritian firm Mag Energy International will also be a partner in the project, reported Reuters.

The statement did not say how long construction would last. Sicomines officials have previously estimated that it would take four to five years.

Reuters reports that Sicomines, which began operations last November, is already DR Congo’s third largest producer of copper.

Home | About Us | Companies | Countries | Minerals | Contact Us
© Mines and Communities 2013. Web site by Zippy Info