Report: Villages Burned, People Beaten for Green Mineral Mining in Congo

Sep 27, 2023

Mining minerals is a big business in one African nation. It's done to build more electric vehicle (EV) batteries. But these projects have led to evictionsassaults, and the torching of homes. This is according to a new Amnesty International report.

In its report, the rights group detailed evictions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). They go back 11 years. The oustings were carried out by soldiers for mining projects. The projects were started by companies based in other countries.

Congo has the world's biggest cobalt reserves. It is Africa’s largest source of copper too. Both are used for EV batteries and green energy systems.

But their mining comes at a high human cost, critics say. US officials and activists have long criticized the abuse of workers. The steady threat of violence by militant DRC leaders is condemned too.

The Amnesty report cites the February 2020 land seizure by soldiers with dogs. They stripped land away from 144 farmers in Tshamundenda. A woman tried to harvest her crops before they were burned. She told Amnesty she was attacked by soldiers.

In November 2016, soldiers set fire to a village in Lualaba province. This was to enable copper and cobalt mining by a company based in Dubai. A girl was badly burned. She was only 2 years old. People who tried to stop the soldiers were beaten.

Agnes Callamard leads Amnesty International. She said climate justice demands a "just" shift. She added that decarbonizing the world must not lead to more human rights abuses. She stated the people of the DRC suffered greatly during and after the colonial era. She stated "their rights are still being sacrificed as the wealth around them is stripped away."

Photo from Reuters.

Reflect: What do you think we can do to ensure that the environment and people's rights are both protected when we use minerals from other countries to make things like electric vehicle batteries?

What idea is highlighted by the author throughout the story? (Common Core RI.5.3; RI.6.3)
a. the importance of fossil fuels for clean energy
b. the positive impact of mining on local communities
c. the connection between mineral mining and human rights abuses
d. the benefits of using electric vehicle batteries
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