Artisan mining in the DRC

Artisan mining in the DRC

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is incredibly rich in natural resources

DR Congo is estimated to have $24 trillion worth of untapped deposits of raw mineral ores, including the world’s largest reserves of cobalt and significant quantities of the world’s diamonds, gold and copper. The major ores extracted throughout the DRC are:

  1. Cobalt
  2. Diamonds
  3. Gold
  4. Copper

Much of the resource extraction is done in small operations,[citation needed] known as “Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining” which are unregulated in the DRC. Recently, more money is being invested into the extraction and refining of some of the ores found in the DRC, primarily copper and cobalt, which may help regulate the extraction and reduce environmental impacts.

However, many ASM operations still exist for minerals such as coltan that can be mined with little capital investment. ASM operations employ a significant number of DRC’s population, with estimates of up to one fifth of the country or 12.5 million people. Because artisanal mining operations require little capital they are unregulated and occur primarily within protected areas, around endangered or threatened species. Artisanal mining often occurs in riparian zones.

Issues stemming from mining practices include disruption of families, mining-related illnesses, environmental damage, child-labor, and abuse of women including prostitution and rape.

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