Global demand for rare minerals is leading to increases in deforestation and degradation right across Central Africa. Copper, gold, diamonds, cobalt, uranium, and coltan are just some of the minerals found beneath the soil in the Congo Basin. Their presence makes the area irresistible to illegal miners, who don’t let the rainforest stand in their way.
To tackle this forest loss, Cool Earth teamed up with Flora and Fauna International (FFI) to work with local people in Lubutu, one of the most remote areas in the DRC, to protect their most precious resource.Over half of the households in Lubutu have seen mining happening in their local area, and ten percent have actively participated in it. Across the DRC, at least 2 million people are actively involved in mining and are responsible for producing 90% of the minerals that are exported from the country. Nearly half of these are children. It means that 15-20% of the population is directly dependent on mining for income, a dangerous and illegal activity, not to mention one that contributes to a huge amount of forest loss in the country.
Women are particularly badly affected by the mining trade. The risks faced every day include sexual violence, family break-up, health risks due to lack of sanitation, malnutrition and physical trauma, risk of HIV/AIDS, gender discrimination and exposure to high levels of drug and alcohol abuse. The average income ranges from $2-$4 dollars per day1.
Not only is this an industry that’s destroying rainforest, it’s destroying lives.
Government intervention isn’t working. So it’s time for a different approach. Cool Earth puts people first, empowering local communities and building capacity. It’s creating resilient communities that are economically strong enough to resist mining. The potential social and environmental benefits are huge.