Published by the Tennessee Tribune on 25th February 2021
Edited by Judith Isacoff and Carlin Becker
Justine Kamakura, gets up at 5 a.m. and walks about 10 miles from her village to work in a cassiterite mine in Nyabibwe in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s South Kivu province. Though the 40-year-old mother of six has been working in these mines for 11 years, she can still only afford to send one of her children to school.
Cassiterite, from which tin is extracted, is one of the four conflict minerals mined in eastern Congo. It is used around the world by tech giants and other major corporations in the manufacture of phones, medical imagery devices and televisions.
Yet working in the mines is a dangerous occupation, and one which lacks oversight.
“In politically unstable areas, the minerals trade can be used to finance armed groups, fuel forced labor and other human rights abuses, and support corruption and money laundering,” the European Commission states in its cassiterite regulatory policy.
This leads to serious consequences for the workers.
In August last year, at least 50 artisanal miners were killed after landslides caused the collapse of three gold mines in Kamituga in South Kivu province. Two years earlier, in the mine where Kamakura works, 10 artisanal miners also died after a hole collapsed.
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