At least one person killed in protest near Barrick’s Congo mine

‘Shots were fired and at least one death and several wounded have been confirmed,’ the governor’s office said.
Image: Trevor Snapp/Bloomberg

At least one person was killed during protests last week against evictions of people in illegal settlements near Barrick Gold Corp’s Kibali gold mine in northeast Democratic Republic of Congo, the local governor’s office said on Monday.

Two villages near the mine, where residents had previously been resettled from, have been occupied by local people, “in violation of the rights of the company Kibali goldmines,” the Haut Uele governor’s office said in a statement.

“Shots were fired and at least one death and several wounded have been confirmed,” the governor’s office said, referring to Friday’s confrontation between settlers and police in the nearby town of Durba.

Earlier in the week, authorities had started to demolish houses in the villages of Bandai and Mege, according to mining transparency group Congo Is Not For Sale (CNPAV). The governor suspended the evictions following the deadly protest, his office said, and launched an inquiry.

During the 2012-2013 construction of the mine, Kibali resettled and gave compensation to around 17 000 people from the area around its concession, which it refers to as an exclusion zone, according to company records.

Subsequently, from 2015, newcomers started building on the part of the exclusion zone known as Zone B, an area that has not yet been developed, Kibali’s country manager, Cyrille Mutombo, told Reuters by telephone.

“In response to the continued illegal settlement within Zone B, the provincial government issued vacate orders on several occasions to encourage the illegal occupants to leave the area,” Mutombo said.

“When these orders were not heeded, the provincial government was compelled to proceed.”

A spokesperson for Kibali, a joint venture operated by Barrick, said the demonstration did not occur on the concession, and was not connected to the company.

The government said it had set up a commission to identify those owed compensation and those who should be evicted.

Kibali, which is 45%-owned by Barrick, 45% by AngloGold Ashanti Ltd and 10% by state-owned gold company SOKIMO, produced 364,000 ounces of gold in 2020, according to its website.

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