In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), ASM takes many different forms, from official co-operative associations to small groups of miners illegally operating on mining concessions. Some consider it viable employment and a better long-term alternative to other rural livelihoods. In addition, the time required for agriculture to produce an income means that the riskier rewards of ASM come more quickly. Our research at Kolwezi (an area close to our mining assets in the Katanga province) shows that a large number of households are relying on both ASM and agriculture/animal husbandry for income.
We believe that our most important contribution to addressing ASM in the DRC is our significant enhancement of local employment. Our mines at Kamoto Copper Company (KCC) and Mutanda employ over 15,000 employees and contractors, offering local people employment opportunities at different skill levels.
In addition we also specifically work to reduce ASM with targeted programmes.
We support 25 co-operative associations that work with the communities around our assets. These associations initiate and build projects to generate sustainable income sources, and educate local people about the dangers of ASM.
They report increasing interest from artisanal miners and receive requests from new members and for new association affiliations. In our experience, successful agricultural and livestock programmes appear to be the best way to encourage artisanal miners to consider other income-generating activities.
Since 2011, we have engaged 2 contracting companies to maintain Kolwezi roads and drains. Our support of these companies funds their salaries, training, tax payments and medical care as well as ensuring a secure water supply. Today, 75 former artisanal miners are employed by these companies.
ASM varies greatly and tackling it covers diverse elements such as community development, access to resources, security and developing a relevant legal framework. For this reason we consider it vital to engage and share information with all stakeholders, including local and provincial authorities and SAESCAM, the institution created by the DRC mining code to represent and co-ordinate artisanal miners.