Mining the Katanga (DRC) Copperbelt: geological aspects and impacts on public health and the environment towards a holistic approach
Earth and related Environmental sciences
Geodynamics and mineral resources
Czech Geological Survey
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The Katanga Copperbelt (Democratic Republic of the Congo, DRC) is part of a world-class copper and cobalt deposit stretching over SE DRC and NE Zambia. The Copperbelt accounts for >5% of the world s copper (Cu) reserves and ~55% of the cobalt (Co) reserves. Uranium and other trace elements are frequently associated to cobalt. Due to the recent (last 15 millions of years) geological history of the Katanga, Cu and Co ores were brought to the surface and are exposed in a thick cover of weathered sediments and soils. Metals (Cu, Co, and trace elements, including U) are likely to be mobilized, and to pass into surface fluids. The high cobalt content in surface sediments/soils of the Katanga Copperbelt is a unique feature, unknown elsewhere in the world. These geological factors combine with another specific aspect of the Katanga Copperbelt, i.e. the importance of artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM). Working conditions in the ASM are extremely poor, so that the diggers (locally known as creuseurs ) undergo abnormally high exposure to the metals they exploit. The consequences of this exposure on public health are currently evaluated. It is however of high importance to consider the ASM issue as a whole, with upstream economic and social components, and downstream components: fallouts on public health and environmental pollution.
CitationDe Putter, Th.; Decrée, S.; Banza, C.; Nemery , B. (2011). Mining the Katanga (DRC) Copperbelt: geological aspects and impacts on public health and the environment towards a holistic approach. , Mining and the environment in Africa (Inaugural meeting of the IGCP 594: Assessment of impacts of mining and mineral processing on the environment and human health in Africa), 14-17, Czech Geological Survey,