Decades of copper and cobalt mining in
the Democratic Republic of Congo not
only transformed the landscape of the
city of Lubumbashi, but also caused
widespread concern over the health and
safety of the residents.
“High concentrations of toxic metals
cause respiratory disorders and birth
defects,” particularly in people living
near the mines, said toxicologist Celestin
Banza of the University of Lubumbashi.
The damage has spread through acids in
untreated waste released into nature,
polluting the air, the water, and much of
Lubumbashi, a city of more than two
million residents in the country’s
Until recently, Lubumbashi was the
capital of Katanga province whose
fabulous copper wealth was first tapped
by Belgian imperial colonists early in the 20th century.
Last year, Katanga was divided into four
new provinces. Mining is prevalent in the
two southern ones.