KINSHASA Nov 21 A landslide killed at least 13
people last week in southeastern Democratic Republic of Congo
after thousands of artisanal miners began invading a copper mine
controlled by Freeport-McMoRan Inc, the provincial
governor said on Monday.
Between 5,000 and 10,000 illegal miners have descended on
the Tenke copper mine, one of the world's largest, since last
week, Richard Muyej, governor of Lualaba province, told
U.N.-sponsored Radio Okapi.
"The Tenke Fungurume site is overrun by clandestine miners
who organise incursions into the heart of the private
concession," Muyej said. "The report I received indicated that
13 bodies were taken from the site."
It was not immediately clear what accounted for the surge in
artisanal miners on site. Freeport did not immediately respond
to a request for comment.
Freeport agreed in May to sell its 56 percent stake in Tenke
to China Molybdenum and Toronto-based Lundin Mining
announced last week it would sell its 24 percent stake
to BHR Partners, a Chinese private equity firm.
But state miner Gecamines, which owns the remaining 20
percent, is trying to block the sales, saying they violate its
right to purchase the stakes for itself.
Deadly accidents are common in Congo's mostly unregulated
artisanal mining sector, where diggers use rudimentary tools,
but far rarer at its large industrial mines.
Tens of thousands of people in Congo's southeast depend on
small-scale mining to support their families and often operate
within the perimeters of industrial mines. Congo is Africa's
largest copper producer.
(Reporting by Aaron Ross; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)