Photo: PREMICONGO

Today, SOMOs partner PREMICONGO published a report on the irresponsible business conduct of China Non-ferrous Metal Mining Corporation Huachin operating in Mabende, close to village “45”, in the province of Haut Katanga in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Huachin Mabende is mining for copper and cobalt.

PREMICONGO is a small environmental NGO based in Lubumbashi fighting for the rights of communities that are negatively affected by mining operations in the region. The report serves as the basis for a complaint filed by PREMICONGO on behalf of the local community of Mabende with the China Chamber of Commerce of Metals, Minerals and Chemical exporters (CCCMC). PREMICONGO faults Huachin Mabende with violating human rights, labour rights and damaging the environment. SOMO has provided funding for the research and supports PREMICONGO in filing the complaint.

Assess the operations of Huachin Mabende

The China Chamber of Commerce of Metals, Minerals and Chemicals (CCCMC) resides under the Ministry of Commerce. Its main role is to promote and coordinate Chinese investments in the mining, chemicals and energy sectors abroad. Since 2014, CCCMC has developed a number of guidelines and instruments to assure responsible miningIn 2014, the CCCMC developed the Guidelines on Social Responsibility for Chinese Mining Investments Abroad. CCCMC has also developed the Chinese Due Diligence Guidelines for Responsible Mineral Supply Chains. In 2016, together with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), CCCMC launched the Responsible Cobalt Initiative (RCI).. These form the normative framework used by PREMICONGO to assess the operations of Huachin Mabende.

Issues shown in the report

The issues presented in the report are related to themes covered by the CCCMC Guidelines, including Fair Operations, Human Rights, Work Issues, Environment, and Community Participation. PREMICONGO has documented how the community lost huge acreage of arable land to deforestation for which the mining company is responsible. The remaining land is polluted by waste water. No compensation whatsoever has been provided by the company. The mining company is impacting on the freedom of circulation of the local population by setting up checkpoints and denying passages to villagers’ vehicles. PREMICONGO collected drinking water samples at the sole water point installed by the mining company in the village and had them tested by a renowned lab in Lubumbashi. The EWES lab found the water to be unsuitable for human consumption. Huachin Mabende has not properly consulted the local community and has consistently turned a deaf ear on the village leaders and PREMICONGO when they attempted to discuss concerns and complaints.

Working together

For a considerable number of years now, SOMO has been working with PREMICONGO and other Congolese NGOs on mining, of so-called conflict minerals as well as other minerals, in particular those minerals that end up in electronics products, bringing to light the numerous negative impacts of large scale and artisanal mining operations. Community rights are violated, the environment suffers, labour rights of workers in the mines are neglected. SOMO and its Congolese partners have also looked into the artisanal mining where child labour is rampant.

PREMICONGO is specialised in the protection of the environment and the defence of the rights of local communities impacted by the extractive industries.
SOMO dossier on extractives.

Download the report