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Excavators and drillers at work in an open pit at a copper and cobalt mine in Congo's copper-producing south Excavators and drillers at work in an open pit at a copper and cobalt mine in Congo's copper-producing south 

Scores die in DRC mining accident

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, at least 43 artisanal miners have been killed by a landslide at a copper and cobalt mine run by the Anglo-Swiss mining giant Glencore.

By Linda Bordoni

The mine, where the latest accident occurred, spans a vast, flat expanse on the outskirts of the Congolese city of Kolwezi near the southern border with Zambia. It is one of the largest high-grade copper assets in the world.

The chief of staff to the governor of the province where the landslide happened said search and rescue operations continue as it is thought other bodies are still under the rubble.

The accident occurred in an open-pit mine at the Kamoto Copper Company concession  in which Glencore subsidiary Katanga Mining has a 75% stake.

Illegal mining

Officials said the miners caught up in the landslide were on the site illegally without approval or permits. So-called illegal mining is common in DRC and across Africa where old-fashioned and unregulated mining methods can compromise safety, and cost scores of lives each year.

A union official said the Company had put up red warning signs where a crack in part of the pit had been noticed, but the diggers had ignored them.

The army meanwhile has been deployed in the area to deter artisanal miners from entering, a move human rights activists said could stoke tension and lead to clashes.

Electric car batteries

Thousands of illegal miners operate in and around mines in southern Congo, which produce more than half of the world's cobalt, a key component in electric car batteries.

The electric vehicle revolution has fuelled rising demand for cobalt, but human rights groups have raised concerns about a supply chain they say is tainted by child labour and other human rights abuses.

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28 June 2019, 15:47