BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

24 September 2014
Press Office
Search the BBC and Web
Search BBC Press Office

BBC Homepage

Contact Us

Press Releases

IAEA concern as BBC World Service reveals illegal mining at "closed" DRC uranium mine

Category : World Service
Date : 26.03.2004
Printable version

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the British Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo have expressed concern after BBC World Service has found evidence that thousands of illegal miners are mining radioactive minerals at Shinkolobwe in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The British Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Jim Atkinson, has described it as "a worrying development, particularly in the present climate of international terrorism and the search and attempts to control weapons of mass destruction or their development.


"This is obviously something that we shall have to look into urgently with our other international partners and see what we can do about it," he said.

The Shinkolobwe mine was flooded by the Belgian colonial power in 1945 and is now a restricted area.


But a BBC World Service correspondent who visited the area says thousands of illegal miners are extracting material containing cobalt, copper, platinum and uranium.


Uranium extracted from Shinkolobwe was used to make the nuclear bombs that destroyed the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.


The BBC World Service correspondent also witnessed truck loads of material driving away from the Shinkolobwe mine to an unknown destination through dense jungle.

An IAEA spokesperson, Melissa Fleming, said: “We are of course aware of the turbulent situation in terms of security and political situation in the region.


"We're aware that the government itself may not be fully aware of the activities ongoing in some parts of the country.


"That said, we are demanding information on the government on these alleged mining activities.


"It is a scenario where we could ask for a special so called 'complementary access inspection' and this is something that is being considered."


The DRC is obliged to report any uranium mining activities as well as exports, she said.

Speaking on BBC World Service, DRC's Minister of Mines said he had appealed for international help in controlling activities at Shinkolobwe.


"The situation is very dangerous. We need to protect this area. We are waiting for international support to protect the area," the Mines Minister, Eugene Diomi Ndongola, said.


He had been in contact with United States diplomats in Kinshasa and the World Bank to end exploitation of the site, he said.


He had heard that during the war the mine had been visited by Chinese, North Koreans and other Africans, he said.

A miner at Shinkolobwe told BBC World Service: "We come here early in the morning, about seven-thirty, and we dig all day with shovels, hammers and pick-axes."



Category : World Service
Date : 26.03.2004
Printable version


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy