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Saturday, July 22, 2006

Uranium Mining Found in Congo

U.N. experts found signs of ongoing uranium mining at the Congo site that provided uranium for the first U.S. atomic bombs, Reuters reported yesterday.

The United Nations ordered that the Shinkolobwe mine in southwestern Congo be shut down in 2004 following a partial collapse that killed eight people. U.N. investigators at the time determined that further collapses were likely to occur, and that miners also faced danger from extended exposure to radiation.

Experts monitoring a U.N. arms embargo on the Democratic Republic of Congo said they recently noticed signs of “artisan mining” at Shinkolobwe. Police and residents said “local agents of the mining police and of the National Intelligence Agency not only encourage but also charge fees from the miners,” the experts said in a report to the U.N. Security Council.

Congolese authorities in August 2004 destroyed a village that had been home to 14,000 miners. Nonetheless, the U.N. experts said they located seven other villages just a few miles from the mine with a population of about 10,000. They said they were able to approach the mine without seeing “barriers or even simple warning signs” (Irwin Arieff, Reuters, July 21).
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