Mountain Where Soil Is ‘90% Gold’ Discovered In Democratic Republic Of The Congo
Authorities have had to ban mining in a village in the Democratic Republic of the Congo after a mountain made up of gold-rich soil was discovered.
Dozens of people flooded to the mountain in Luhihi, in Congo’s South Kivu province, following the discovery of the gold-rich ore in late February, with videos from the scene showing people digging at the ground with shovels and using their hands to try and extract the precious material from the ground.
Venant Burume Muhigirwa, South Kivu Mines Minister, said that the influx of diggers had put pressure on the small village where the mountain is located, around 50km (30 miles) from the provincial capital, Bukavu.
The soil in the mountain is thought to be made up of ‘60% to 90%’ of gold, according to BBC associate Tori Pesin.
Subsistence mining, as those in the video could be seen doing, involves extracting minerals with rudimentary tools and is common across Democratic Republic of Congo, Reuters reports.
‘Artisanal’ gold mining is said to be especially widespread in the gold-producing east and northeast of the country, but a decree released on Monday, March 1, required that all miners, traders and members of Congo’s armed forces (FARDC) leave the mine sites in and around Luhihi.
Of the artisanal miners that work in the northeast, 90% work in the gold sector, and 64% of the artisanal gold mines in the region have armed groups present on site.
The order, confirmed by Muhigirwa, also said that all mining activities were suspended until further notice, and that the presence of FARDC at the mine sites, which is prohibited under Congo’s mining code, contributed to the ‘disorder’ at Luhihi.
The suspension aims to give authorities time to identify the miners working at the mountain and ensure they are properly registered with artisanal mining regulators.
The decree noted that order must be re-established in mining activities in Luhihi ‘not only to protect lives but also to ensure the traceability of the gold produced in line with Congolese law.’
Congo is full of natural riches, including oil, timber, diamonds and minerals, but the ease with which these materials can be found drives greed and societal grievances, according to the website Congo’s Gold.
Along with tin, tungsten and tantalum, gold is one of the resources known as ‘conflict materials’, with research suggesting that armed groups mine, or force others to mine, the material before taxing, smuggling and trading the gold.
The site claims that the proceeds from the material are then used to buy weapons or pay for fighters’ salaries.
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