Home » Cobalt and copper mining in DRC: A human rights disaster – Amnesty International Report

Cobalt and copper mining in DRC: A human rights disaster – Amnesty International Report

by Victor Adetimilehin

The rapid expansion of industrial-scale cobalt and copper mining in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has set the stage for extensive human rights violations, ranging from forced evictions to sexual violence and physical abuse. A new report, co-authored by Amnesty International and a local organization, paints a distressing picture of these abuses.

Entitled “Powering Change or Business as Usual?,” the report delves into the negligence and inability of multinational corporations to address the sufferings of communities residing in proximity to their mining ventures in the southern province of Lualaba. Specifically, it highlights six mining projects run by companies hailing from China, Luxembourg, and the United Arab Emirates. These projects yield metals crucial for the production of rechargeable batteries used in electric vehicles and mobile phones.

The DRC boasts the world’s largest cobalt reserves, a vital component of lithium-ion batteries, and the seventh-largest copper reserves. The mounting demand for these metals, driven by the surging clean energy technologies market, comes at a steep cost to the people of Lualaba, who have endured forced displacement from their homes and lands or have been coerced into accepting inadequate compensation.

Amnesty International and IBGDH have documented deeply distressing cases, including:

  • The obliteration of Mukumbi village by soldiers of the Republican Guard.
  • The gang-rape of a pregnant woman by three soldiers, with others as passive bystanders.
  • The coercive eviction of hundreds of residents from Cité Gécamines neighborhood in Kolwezi.

The report’s key recommendations urge the DRC authorities to promptly halt forced evictions, initiate an impartial commission of inquiry, and bolster the enforcement of national laws concerning mining and evictions in alignment with international human rights standards. The implicated companies bear a responsibility to investigate the identified abuses, deliver effective remedies, and take action to avert further harm. Every company must ensure that its operations do not harm the frontline communities.

Furthermore, the report underscores the imperative role of consumers and investors in demanding enhanced transparency and accountability from companies that supply metals for their products. Amnesty International acknowledges the crucial function of rechargeable batteries in the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy sources. Still, it firmly emphasizes that this transition should never come at the cost of human rights. “The DRC can play a pivotal role in the world’s transition from fossil fuels, but the rights of communities must not be trampled in the rush to mine minerals critical to decarbonizing the global economy.”

Source: Amnesty International

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