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Startseite Urgent Actions 2019 06 Artisanal miners at risk as the army moves in
UA 092/19
Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
Abgeschlossen am 9. August 2019
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Correction in the letter!

Please find below and attached the corrected version of the english model letter.

In the second paragraph of the letter, the last sentence should read:

“There have already been reports that the army has destroyed buying houses and temporary shelters.”
(Instead of “There have already been reports that the army has destroyed houses and temporary shelters.”)

Note: A buying house is somewhere where artisanal miners sell the mineral ore that they have mined.

Apologies for the inconvenience.

Artisanal miners at risk as the army moves in

AI-Index: AFR 62/0625/2019

Some 10,000 artisanal miners are at risk of serious human rights violations if forcibly removed by the army from a mining area owned by one of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) largest cobalt producers, Tenke Fungurume Mining (TFM). On 17 June 2019, the DRC army deployed up to 800 soldiers to the area. The artisanal miners have been given until 2 July 2019 to voluntarily leave the area after which they will be forcibly removed.


On 17 June 2019, the DRC government deployed a battalion of the Congolese armed forces (estimated 6-800 troops) to the mining concession of Tenke Fungurume (TFM), one of the world’s largest copper and cobalt mines. It is majority-owned by a Chinese mining company China Molybdenum Co., Ltd. According to news reports, around 10,000 artisanal miners are mining in and around the TFM concession in Lualaba province in the south of the DRC. The Governor of Lualaba justified the deployment of the army by claiming that armed bandits had infiltrated the artisanal miners. He said that, «we have to use force to dissuade them.» The army spokesperson said that a battalion has been deployed to persuade the artisanal miners to leave voluntarily, but that if they do not leave by 2 July 2019, the army will use force to remove them.
Residents of Fungurume town are concerned that the situation may escalate and lead to violence, as the area has a history of violent clashes between artisanal miners and state agents, usually the Mines Police. Eyewitnesses said the recently deployed soldiers were armed with military weapons.
Lualaba province is part of the former Katanga province in the south of the DRC, which lies in the Copperbelt. This region, bordering Zambia, has always been the DRC’s most significant mining area, but the nature of operations has changed dramatically over time. When they were developed in the early 1900s, the mines were large-scale industrial operations, managed by a single state-owned company. Today, industrial copper and cobalt mines are operated by a range of different Congolese and international firms. Running alongside them are many artisanal and non-industrial mining operations.
The scale of these artisanal mining activities is substantial. The government estimates that 20% of the cobalt currently exported from the DRC comes from Katanga’s artisanal miners. A study for the DRC government estimated that there are some 110,000 regular artisanal miners in Katanga, rising to about 150,000 on a seasonal basis. But there is a lack of authorised artisanal mining areas and consequently, many artisanal miners enter onto private concessions to dig for minerals to survive.
In many countries, authorities decide to deploy the military to handle public order situations, when they consider the police not up to the challenges of the given situation. However, this carries a considerable risk of human rights violations. Military armed forces are instructed and trained to fight an enemy. Their operational mindset and modus operandi is the conduct of hostilities in which the use of force, including lethal force, is the first choice of action. Their equipment is designed to neutralize the enemy, and not to minimize damage and injury, nor to protect and preserve life. Unless they have been specifically trained in and equipped to carry out policing in compliance with human rights standards, deploying the military in situations of public order carries considerable risks, particularly of the use of excessive force, including lethal force.

For news reports of the deployment of troops, please see:

For reports of previous similar clashes of this type:

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UA 092/19 english (corrected letter)
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UA 092/19 français (lettre modèle corrigée)
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