Congolese Miners in Kolwezi Face Critically Low Wages, NGO Reports

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The British NGO Rights and Accountability in Development (RAID), alongside the “Centre d’Aide Juridico-Judiciaire” (CAJJ) based in Kolwezi in the Democratic Republic of Congo, has reported alarming wage conditions for Congolese workers in the mining sector. According to their findings, the “living minimum wage” in this southern mining city should be $501 per month, a stark contrast to the earnings of local mining employees. Numerous workers, speaking anonymously, have described their challenging living conditions.

As the DRC Mining Week forum opens on June 12th, 2024, in Lubumbashi, RAID has condemned the deplorable living conditions of Congolese miners. Despite working in some of the world’s largest cobalt mines, these employees receive extremely low wages. Many earn less than $300 per month while working 9 to 10 hours daily, which keeps them entrenched in poverty.

One such worker, an engineer who requested anonymity, has been employed for four years at Commus, a Chinese mining company in Kolwezi, the provincial capital of Lualaba in southern DRC. This employee earns $7.90 per day, totaling $237 per month, while Commus produced 2,200 tonnes of cobalt in 2023. His salary is insufficient to support a decent living standard. He prioritizes expenses such as his children’s education, spending nearly $100 per month on school fees. “After paying for rent and food, my salary doesn’t last the entire month,” he lamented.

Another worker, referred to as “Charlotte” to protect her identity, works in maintenance for KCC, a subsidiary of Glencore, the world’s second-largest cobalt producer. “We are paid the equivalent of $230 in Congolese francs. If you have many children, it’s insignificant,” she stated.

Ana├»s Tobalagba, a legal researcher with RAID, emphasized that these wages violate workers’ rights: “We recalculated Kolwezi’s living wage for 2024, and it is now $501 per month. Many workers, particularly subcontracted ones, earn far less than this amount.”

Soukaina Sghir

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