Amnesty exposes human rights abuses in cobalt and copper mining in DR Congo

-

Amnesty International has exposed alarming human rights abuses in cobalt and copper mining operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

According to their report titled “Powering Change or Business as Usual?”, the expansion of industrial-scale mines that extract these minerals for rechargeable batteries has resulted in forced evictions and a range of human rights violations, including sexual assault.

Amnesty exposes human rights abuses in cobalt and copper mining in DR Congo
Amnesty exposes human rights abuses in cobalt and copper mining in DR Congo

The report, co-authored by Amnesty and the DRC-based organization Initiative pour la Bonne Gouvernance et les Droits Humains, sheds light on the dire consequences of multinational mining operations. Local communities are being forcibly displaced from their homes and farmland to make way for these expanding mines.

Amnesty’s secretary general, Agnes Callamard, has strongly condemned the forced evictions, stating, “The forced evictions taking place as companies seek to expand industrial-scale copper and cobalt mining projects are wrecking lives and must stop now.” She emphasizes that as the world pursues decarbonization and a transition to clean energy, it is imperative that this movement does not come at the expense of vulnerable communities and their human rights.

Amnesty exposes human rights abuses in cobalt and copper mining in DR Congo
Amnesty exposes human rights abuses in cobalt and copper mining in DR Congo

Callamard reminds us that the people of the DRC have already endured significant exploitation and abuse during the colonial and post-colonial eras, and it is deeply unjust to subject them to further suffering as their resources are stripped away.

The growing demand for clean energy technologies has played a role in exacerbating the situation. Specific metals like copper and cobalt are crucial for the production of lithium-ion batteries, which are used in electric vehicles and mobile phones. As the global drive for cleaner and more sustainable solutions intensifies, the need for these metals has skyrocketed, placing additional strain on the mining industry in the DRC.

Amnesty exposes human rights abuses in cobalt and copper mining in DR Congo
Artisanal miners work at the Tilwizembe mine, a former industrial copper-cobalt mine outside of Kolwezi in the DRC [File: Aaron Ross/Reuters]
The report by Amnesty and IBGDH reveals the urgent need for greater accountability and ethical practices within the mining sector. While copper and cobalt are essential for the energy transition, it is crucial to ensure that their extraction does not come at the cost of human rights. Respecting the rights and well-being of the affected communities must be prioritized.

According to a report by Amnesty, the DR Congo possesses the largest reserves of cobalt and the seventh largest reserves of copper in the world. The demand for cobalt is projected to triple from 2010 levels, reaching 222,000 tonnes by 2025.

In an effort to gather information on the mining industry in the southern province of Lualaba, Amnesty and IBGDH conducted over 130 interviews at six mining projects in and around the city of Kolwezi during two visits in 2022.

Ericson Mangoli
Ericson Mangoli is the founder and Managing Editor of Who Owns Africa, a platform for African journalism that focuses on politics, governance, and business. Mangoli is passionate about African stories and believes that media has a crucial role to play in driving the continent's development. In his work, he strives to promote accuracy and objective reporting on Africa.

Leave a Reply

Related Articels

Uganda’s anti-LGBTQ law unleashing a reign of rights abuses

Since the passage of one of the world's harshest anti-gay laws, Uganda has experienced a surge in human rights abuses against LGBTQ individuals. The Anti-Homosexuality Act,...

Crimes against humanity continue unabated in Ethiopia despite truce

Crimes against humanity continue unabated in Ethiopia despite a truce that was agreed upon almost a year ago, according to a report published by United...

Human Rights Watch condemns Visit Rwanda’s partnership with Bayern Munich

Human Rights Watch has condemned Bayern Munich's partnership with the African country of Rwanda, citing concerns over human rights violations in the country. The five-year deal,...

Tanzania urged to end crackdown against Maasai community

Amnesty International has urged Tanzania authorities to end its continued brutal crackdown on the Maasai Indigenous community. Amnesty, a global human rights organization, has called on...

Most Read