The UK National Contact Point released a report today where it states that Kazakh mining giant Eurasian Resources Group flouted the rights of thousands of people living on its cobalt and copper concession in the Lualaba province of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
According to the UK government body for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, the company was aware that water supplies for the villages of Lenge and Kisankala had been contaminated by previous mining activities and that those who lived there, many of who are subsistence farmers or artisanal miners, had few financial means. Yet, it still deprived them of clean water and healthcare.
The study, which is based on ERG’s self-reporting measured against feedback from the affected communities, found that the firm failed to put in place a plan for the present and future supply of clean water; failed to establish actionable projects that could lead to the creation of a school and a health centre; and failed to inform communities about the conduct of its staff and the security of contractors on the site.
Even though the company has tried to make amendments by meeting with local leaders, the document states that people have seen no real action and have lost hope that ERG will ever act to improve their living conditions.
The report recommends that the Kazakh miner takes immediate steps to compensate the victims for any harm done and commit that in future it will adhere to international human rights standards in its operations in Congo and elsewhere.
This is not the first time the miner receives such suggestions. Back in 2016, the British government recommended that the company should address, by February 2017, issues regarding human rights violations at mine sites under the control of its subsidiaries in Congo, as well as communities’ access to safe drinking water. The new analysis states, however, that very little was done back then and that it was several months after the initial deadline had expired that the company started to act on the recommendations.
Despite the inaction, ERG’s Executive Director, Benedikt Sobotka, said last year that he wanted to raise the company’s ethical standards by fuelling infrastructure growth and improving health, wealth and well-being in the towns where they operate.