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Cablegate: Copper Diggers Back at Gecamines Concession After Deadly

VZCZCXRO0426
PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHKI #0276 0801308
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 201308Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7701
INFO RUEHXR/RWANDA COLLECTIVE
RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

UNCLAS KINSHASA 000276

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958; N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV EMIN ELAB KPKO CG
SUBJECT: Copper diggers back at Gecamines concession after deadly
clash with police


1. (SBU) The situation in the Katanga mining center of Likasi, where
police March 6 fired on a group of illegal copper miners protesting
their expulsion from a nearby parastatal concession, has returned to
normal, a MONUC analyst told us March 20. Local officials have
permitted diggers to return to the site, and there have been no
reports of further incidents during the past two weeks. Governor
Moise Katumbi, who had earlier promised the diggers they would not
be expelled, has moved to open an investigation into the death of a
minor shot by police during the demonstration.

2. (SBU) The incident reportedly originated in a request by the
copper and cobalt parastatal Gecamines for the police to clear
illegal miners from its Kamatanda quarry near Likasi. On March 6, a
group of several hundred of these diggers demonstrated in Likasi to
protest their expulsion and proclaim their right to dig for copper
there. Police and demonstrators clashed, resulting in the shooting
death of a boy as well as 32 people wounded, according to press
reports.

3. (SBU) On March 7, a meeting called by Katumbi with provincial
deputies from Likasi and representatives of the diggers agreed to
open an investigation into the incident and permit the diggers to
return to the site. The MONUC analyst told us there have since been
no further incidents. The police officer who accused of shooting
the boy is reportedly in custody.

4. (SBU) Comment: Approximately 150,000 "artisanal" miners scavenge
illegally for ore at inactive or undeveloped Katanga mining
concessions, earning perhaps two to three dollars a day from selling
their pickings to local intermediaries. Gecamines has given no
reason for the expulsion, although press reports speculate about
possible connections to transfer of concessions to Chinese
interests. MONUC is continuing to monitor the situation and does
not rule out a future attempt to move the diggers to another
location. End comment.

GARVELINK

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