Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo — MININGREVIEW.COM — 07 April 2008 – Security forces in the Katanga province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have intercepted a truck transporting radio-active mineral ore bound for export, local authorities have claimed.
Reuters reports from here that the truck – carrying 30 tonnes of copper and cobalt ore for Chinese-run firm Hua-Shin Mining – was stopped at an inspection checkpoint near Kolwezi, one of Congo’s biggest copper belt mining towns, last week.
Kolwezi mayor Christian Busindi said only part of the load was believed to exceed the acceptable levels of radio-activity, and that those minerals would be deposited at a secure site to be determined by state copper miner, Gecamines.
“We have detained some of the company’s representatives – now we need to find out where the minerals came from,” he told Reuters.
The news agency reports that ore mined in Katanga – home to one of the world’s richest belts of copper and cobalt – habitually contains trace amounts of uranium, which the DRC government currently bans from being exported.
The central African nation is recovering from the 1998-2003 civil war that eroded state authority and left infrastructure in ruins. Reuters reports that local authorities say they lack the means to properly inspect mineral output, much of it bought from an estimated 150 000 artisanal miners working in the Katanga province.
Tonnes of seized radioactive ore meant for disposal at an abandoned uranium mine were instead dumped into a river near the mining town of Likasi in October last year, causing the temporary closure of nearby water treatment plants.