819 Assessment of the impact of mining on the environment and health in drc (democratic republic of congo)

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Abstract

Introduction

DRC is endowed with enormous mining potential, the exploitation of which promises great hope of economic development. However, the various activities carried out during several years of operation have led to negative environmental and social impacts. The exploitation of mineral deposits has had deleterious effects on the biophysical, socio-economic and health aspects of the surrounding populations.

Methods

Systematic and impartial assessment of mining activities was conducted in terms of environmental impacts, waste management, implementation of environmental control mitigation measures, and emergency plan, according to national regulations and requirements of The World Bank. Field study required visits to the sites in the Provinces of Katanga, Kasai Oriental and Kasai Occidental, collection of samples of water and soil, collection of health data, and interviews with key personnel including representatives of mining companies, miners and surrounding populations.

Result

Samples of surface water, groundwater and soil were collected and analysed along with surveys on occupational health and safety issues including noise and observations carried out by the group of experts on the basis of literature in the field. The contaminants that were above the standard included Silver, Arsenic, Copper, Molybdenum, Chromium, Zinc, Manganese, Mercury, Potassium and Sulphur, Nitrites and Nitrates, and suspended organic matter. Resulting population displacements had quite disruptive social effects and serious risks of impoverishment on aboriginal families and residents and damage to the environment.

Discussion

Issues of waste management, liquid effluents, especially acid mine drainage, and the enormous excavation holes were quite noticeable. The analysis revealed exceedance of the current standards of DRC, WHO or Quebec, concerning the quality of surface and ground water, and soil quality. This mission laid the groundwork for an awareness of the dangers that threaten the environment in general, and especially the populations living in the vicinity of explored mining sites along with mitigation measures.

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