Tuesday, October 28, 2008

EU Involvement in DRC Mining Project Draws Protest


EU Involvement in DRC Mining Project Draws Protest

By Michael Deibert

Inter Press Service

LONDON, Oct 28, 2008 (IPS) - The involvement of the European Union in a mining project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has drawn a chorus of protest from local and international human rights advocates. They say the project is rife with problems relating to transparency and accountability.

Located some 175 km north-west of the DRC city of Lubumbashi in Katanga province, the Tenke Fungurume vein is thought to be one of the largest unexploited seams of copper and cobalt in the world.

It has proven alluring to mining companies in recent years as the DRC attempts to extract itself from a civil war during which some six million people have died.

Mining of this resource has fallen to Tenke Fungurume Mining SARL (TFM), a joint concern combining Gécamines, Congo's state mining concern, with Lundin, a Swedish mining company, and the U.S.-based mining concern Phelps Dodge.

The latter merged with gold-and-copper giant Freeport-McMoran in 2007 and has since become Freeport-McMoran Copper & Gold Inc.

After construction on the Tenke mining facility commenced in 2007, the European Investment Bank (EIB), the investment arm of the European Union, agreed that same year to help finance the project with a loan of 100 million euros.

It regarded the project as ''highly significant from an economic and developmental point of view'' and that ''environmental and social issues (connected with the project) have been subjected to careful in-depth analysis.'

However, the EIB's move has been criticised both by international bodies, such as the Paris-based Les Amis de la Terre (Friends of the Earth), as well as local organisations in the DRC, such as Action Contre l'Impunité pour les Droits Humains (Action against impunity towards human rights).

Read the full article here.

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