At least 41 artisanal miners killed in accident at DRC Glencore mine

At least 41 artisanal miners were killed on Thursday when part of a Glencore-owned copper-cobalt mine in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) collapsed.

The incident occurred in the KOV open pit mine at the Kamoto Copper Company (KCC) concession in Southeast DRC. Glencore’s subsidiary Katanga Mining owns a 75% stake in KCC.

Richard Muyej, governor of the DRC’s Lualaba province, told Reuters that the accident was caused by ‘clandestine artisanal diggers’ who had infiltrated the mine.

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

This is the second fatality to occur at the KOV mine, after six employees were killed in 2016 when 250-metre wall inside the pit collapsed.

Glencore said it is seeing an increasing number of artisanal miners enter the KCC concession, with an average of 2,000 illegal miners working on the outskirts of the mine every day.

Artisanal mining-related fatalities are a common occurrence in the DRC, which produces half of the world’s cobalt. The valuable metal is sought after by artisanal miners who toil in unregulated and dangerous conditions.

Glencore said it is ‘doing what it can’ to inform local communities of the dangers associated with illegal trespassing on mining sites.