The IFC has financed feasibility studies for the Kolwezi mining project in Katanga, which will re-process tailings from an old Gecamines mine site to extract copper and cobalt. Mining has contributed to extensive environmental damage in the DRC, leaving many asking who will clean up the mess.
According to the IFC, the project is to prepare a definitive feasibility study (DFS), including marketing, technical, and environmental and social impact studies, for the re-treatment of processed oxide tailings from the Kolwezi concentrator, located in Katanga province, which began operations in the early 1950’s. The project consists of two dams containing 112.8 million tones of oxide tailings, grading 1.49% copper and 0.32% cobalt and is believed to have the potential to host one of the world’s largest and lowest cost cobalt producers. The project is expected to have a lifespan of approximately 53 years and generate significant tax and foreign exchange earning, as well as provide local employment and contribute to the revival of the DRC’s copper belt infrastructure. The project company is Kingamyambo Musonoi Tailings SARL (KMT), a Congolese company which has been created for the purpose of exploiting the tailings.