DRC: Societal Impact on the Expansion of Cobalt and Cooper Mining

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has numerous remarkable natural resources, including cobalt and copper minerals, significant arable land, immense biodiversity, hydropower potential, and the world's second-largest rainforest. The DRC capitalizes on its abundant natural resources and has continued expanding its cobalt and copper mines. The extraction from these mines by various businesses and both local and international governments has ultimately led to deplorable human rights violations, eternalizing a cycle of poverty and violence. Mining regulations poorly mandate them, and the companies involved rarely compensate the communities in which they are impacted. Multiple laws in the DRC are breached through the engagement of child labor, horrific working and living conditions, and the eviction of its residents. 

In "Powering Change or Business as Usual?" by Amnesty International and IBGDH, details the expansion of cobalt and copper mining in the DRC and how it has resulted in severe human rights abuses, which include forced evictions, sexual assault, arson, and beatings." The forced evictions taking place as companies seek to expand industrial-scale copper and cobalt mining projects are wrecking lives and must stop now," said Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International's Secretary General. Agnès Callamard stresses the urgency to halt these forced evictions and how the citizens of the DRC are losing their livelihoods. Since many multinational companies are rapidly expanding mining operations, they have forcibly displaced communities from their homes and farmland. This leads to devastating consequences that demand prompt intervention. While rechargeable batteries are valuable, decarbonization should not come at the cost of human rights. In this study, the report exposes repeated breaches of legal safeguards and international human rights standards and disregard for the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. This study highlights the difficulties that affected communities have been going through near Kolwezi. These residents face issues such as inadequate compensation and deteriorating living conditions due to mining activities. There are reported documented cases in this study as well, like that of Kabibi, who was sexually assaulted during the bulldozing of her crops by soldiers linked to a mining project. 

In addition to these findings, "More legislation, more violence? The impact of Dodd-Frank in the DRC" by Nik Stoop, Marijke Verpoorten, and Peter van der Windt talks about the unintended consequences of the Dodd-Frank Act's Section 1502 on conflict dynamics in DRC mining territories from 2004 to 2015. The Dodd-Frank law, specifically Section 1502, was created to decrease illegal trade and funding of violence in mineral-rich areas. Its goal is to improve governance, promote peace, and enhance security in those regions. However, in areas with about the usual number of mines, the Dodd-Frank law led to more "battles with 44%; looting with 51% and violence against civilians with 28%, compared to pre-Dodd-Frank averages." The increase in these incidents after introducing the Dodd-Frank law suggests the shortcomings in its implementation.

Furthermore, the areas where violations could occur based on the study and its findings include human rights violations, peace and security obligations, environmental degradation, and accountability and transparency. The study underscores that even though some laws tried to make mineral supply chains clear and responsible, they have worsened conflicts. It only goes to show how crucial it is to listen to the people in the areas affected, plan strategies accordingly, and implement laws correctly. 

According to "Democratic Republic of The Congo 2022" by Amnesty International, in 2022, the DRC was faced with severe human rights violations, including mass killings, crackdowns on dissent, and ill-treatment of detainees. In regions like the eastern DRC, there has been increased violence, displacement, and a worsening humanitarian crisis. Many things have been going on for years and are supported by the previous articles and pieces. Despite the ongoing conflicts, the government showed little political will to hold these violators accountable. Armed groups have continued to target civilians, resulting in countless deaths and injuries. The problems have become dire as many different groups in these communities were resorting to violence. Many aid workers were being attacked, making it hard to help people, and even though they tried to alleviate the issues, other difficulties continued to arise.

These forced evictions must come to a halt, the violence and abuse must cease, and the enforcement of mining-related laws needs to be prioritized to protect human rights. Mining companies can start by investigating abuses, providing compensation, and preventing further harm to frontline communities. It's important to emphasize that responsible mining practices are essential to safeguarding human rights in the DRC. There needs to be transparency and accountability in mineral supply chains as well. As mentioned before, the failure to effectively implement these measures has only led to more violence and exploitation, which could represent a breach of international standards related to corporate accountability and transparency in resource extraction. The DRC should stress adaptive strategies to minimize adverse outcomes and advocate for the safety of their people. More rules and regulations are needed that can be effectively implemented to protect its citizens. 


Stoop, N., Verpoorten, M., & van der Windt, P. (2018). More legislation, more violence? The impact of Dodd-Frank in the DRC. PloS one, 13(8), e0201783. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0201783

DRC: Powering change or business as usual?. Amnesty International. (2023, September 11). https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/AFR62/7009/2023/en/

Human rights in democratic republic of the Congo. Amnesty International. (n.d.). https://www.amnesty.org/en/location/africa/east-africa-the-horn-and-great-lakes/democratic-republic-of-the-congo/report-democratic-republic-of-the-congo/