A real front in the war on terror, and virtually a one-sided battle …
President Joseph Kabila ordered the zone <$NoAd$>closed three months ago amid growing concerns that unregulated nuclear materials could get into the hands of so-called rogue nations or terrorist groups. Yet 1,000 miles away from the capital, Kinshasa, thousands of diggers are still hacking away at a dark cavity of open earth in this southeastern village, filling thousands of burlap sacks a day with black soil rich in cobalt, copper and radioactive uranium.
The illegal mining provides stark evidence of how little control Africa’s third-largest nation has over its own nuclear resources, highlighting the government’s weak authority beyond the capital in the aftermath of Congo’s devastating 1998-2002 war.
“They’re digging as fast as they can dig, and everyone is buying it,” John Skinner, a mining engineer in the nearby town of Likasi, said of the illegal freelance mining at Shinkolobwe. “The problem is that nobody knows where it’s all going. There is no control.”
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