The government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has confirmed 12 deaths and 4,400 have fallen ill following a tailing leak from the Catoca diamond mine in Angola.
The tailing were seen to have leaked into the Lova River on July 27 following a rupture in a spillway for the mine waste dam. The country’s environment minister Eve Bazaiba made the announcement and said DRC will seek reparations in line with the “polluter pays” principle.
DRC says pollution has harmed the health of the inhabitants of Tshikapa in Kasai province, causing diarrhea. Reports from villagers in central Congo said the chemicals killed fish and hippos since July. A report from the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation also says “other large mammals like buffaloes have been affected. People have also been banned from drinking water and eating fish from the Tshikapa River after the spill, which she said significantly depleted the river’s fish population.
On the other hand, Angola admits that its largest diamond mine has suffered damage. The government says it was informed of this by mining company Catoca. Catoca, a joint venture of Russian state-controlled diamond producer Alrosa and Angolan state diamond company Endiama, is one of the biggest diamond mines in the world and Angola’s top diamond producer, responsible for around 75% of national output.
The company said it would provide local residents with baskets of basic goods to mitigate the impact of the leak on waterways.