At Least 16 Killed in Collapse at Illegally-Run Congo Gold Mine

A landslide in an illegally-run gold mine in the town of Kampene within the Democratic Republic of Congo has collapsed, killing at least 16, according to government minister Steve Mbikayi, Reuters and BBC News.

Three others have been taken to the hospital with injuries according to Mbikayi, and search efforts continue in the area. More than 20 people were working on the gold seam at the time of the accident, according to Stéphane Kamundala, a local activist.

"There was an accident at the Kampene mine, and for the moment we were able to get 16 bodies from the site of the landslide," Governor Auguy Musafiri of Maniema province told Reuters.

"What surprises us is that the activities continued in this mine, which had been closed by the provincial division of mines."

Clara Maitse, 77, a former illegal miner, filters dirt and soil as he searches for minerals following the legalisation of mining in limited areas on June 5, 2018 in Kimberley, Northern Cape, South Africa. An illegal gold mine has collapsed in the Congo, killing an estimated 16. MUJAHID SAFODIEN / AFP/Getty

Safety standards have come into question at illegally run mines across the continent, all of which use rudimentary tools and methods to burrow deep into the ground to harvest the desired materials.

Death tolls rise in new collapses and accusations of pollution arrive. A gold mine in Chad, on the Libyan border, collapsed on Wednesday, killing 30. Another collapse at a copper and cobalt mine in Glencore in the southern Congo killed 43 in June.

The president of Nigeria's Senate, Ahmad Lewan, has called for the prosecution of anyone engaged in illegal mining within Nigeria, presenting a motion co-sponsored by over 32 other senators calling for change, according to PM News Nigeria. He called for the mining sector in particular to be revamped.

"This Senate will look into the solid minerals sector seriously, and we will charge our Committee on Solid Minerals, Steel Development and Metallurgy to call for a public hearing on what the sector should be in this country," Lewan said.

"We know we have policies on solid minerals as well as legislation. The Federal Government gave N30 billion to the ministry just to revamp the sector in the last four years but I think as a parliament, we should be able to contribute very meaningfully to ensuring that this sector, which is so important to us, given the kind of situation the oil industry is going through, is given attention," he continued.

"Illegal mining sites not only breed criminality but also exacerbates into full scale terrorism and insurgency as witnessed in these states, particularly Zamfara State, where the state of insecurity can be traced to illegal mining sites," Senator Sahabi Alhaji added.