Lack of access to drinking water in the DRC - a denial of human rights

Conflict between villagers and a mine controlled by the Kazakh-owned Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (ENRC) (now the the Eurasian Resources Group, ERG)  in the Democratic Republic of Congo led to lengthy disruption of the community’s only supply of clean water.

In May 2013, RAID filed a complaint with the UK National Contact Point of the OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises against the Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (ENRC). 

The case concerned the impoverished populations of Kisankala village and Lenge village, located on two mining concessions in Katanga province controlled by companies associated with ENRC. Kisankala’s only clean water supply was in disrepair for nearly a year from July 2012 following clashes between security guards and artisanal miners. RAID’s complaint alleges that these clashes were triggered by actions by security guards to remove artisanal miners from the concession.

The complaint also addressed questions about resettlement and compensation for dispossessed villagers and the alleged absence of environmental and social monitoring, particularly for Lenge. In addition, private security guards operating at the sites were said to have engaged in human rights abuses.

In October 2013, the UK NCP issued its initial assessment on RAID’s complaint, accepting many of the issues for further examination on the grounds that they are material and substantiated. ENRC denied the allegations, but in October 2013 agreed to mediate.

In November 2013 ENRC delisted from the London Stock Exchange after it was acquired by ERG, a privately-owned Luxembourg-based natural resources company.  

The ENRC complaint dragged on for almost three years, partly because of the complexity surrounding the ownership of the mineswas.  It was concluded in February 2016 when the UK’s National Contact Point (NCP) concluded:

  • ‘ENRC has not engaged effectively with two stakeholder communities on the concessions, and has not taken adequate steps to address impacts on the communities’.
  • ‘ENRC has not met the obligation to address human rights impacts with which it is involved’.
  • ‘One of the impacts that is not adequately addressed is a threat to the security of community access to safe drinking water. The right to safe water is a human right’.

According to the findings, ENRC - though not directly responsible - had been aware of the contamination of water sources at two mine sites in southern DRC controlled by its subsidiaries, Comide and Africo Resources Limited (a Canadian company).  Local village chiefs expressed their satisfaction with the NCP statement.

The NCP did not reach a finding as regards the frequent clashes with artisanal miners,  but noted that the company had failed to demonstrate that it ‘had taken action to address the ongoing risks to communities from its security operations or to encourage its business partners to apply [OECD] Guidelines standards in addressing them’[§ 65]. 

 The UK Government will monitor developments at the mine sites and ERG will be required to report on progress  in  implementing the NCP’s recommendations in a year’s time.

Further information

African Seer article

Congo-Kinshasa: International Mining Company Under Fire Over Mines

Other RAID work on ENRC