DR Congo mine collapse death toll rises to 43

Written by on June 29, 2019

The number of artisanal miners killed by a landslide at a copper and cobalt mine owned by Swiss-based mining giant Glencore in southern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has risen to 43 and could climb further as the search for missing workers continues, local officials have said.

The accident occurred on Thursday in the Kolwezi area of Lualaba province when two galleries caved in at the KOV open-pit mine operated by the Kamoto Copper Company (KCC), a subsidiary of Glencore.

The original death toll was estimated at 36 but rose through Thursday evening and into Friday as more bodies were uncovered, the officials told Reuters news agency.

“We think that other bodies are still under the rubble,” said Joseph Yav Katshung, the director of cabinet for the governor of Lualaba, Richard Muyej.

Muyej said the landslide was caused by “clandestine artisanal diggers who have infiltrated [the mine]”.

“The old terraces gave way, causing significant amounts of material to fall,” he told Reuters. “KOV is a delicate site and presents many risks.”

Glencore said in a statement that it had confirmed 19 deaths “with possible further unconfirmed fatalities” and was assisting search-and-rescue operations by local authorities.

“The illegal artisanal miners were working two galleries in benches overlooking the extraction area. Two of these galleries caved in,” the company said.

Artisanal mining by independent workers using their own materials on the edge of commercial mine sites is a big problem across Africa.

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