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Project April 14, 2020

Illegal Gold Mining Creates an Ecological Disaster for Congo-Brazzaville's Sangha Region


In Congo-Brazzaville's Sangha department, we are witnessing a gold rush spurred by Chinese companies and demand for artisanal mining. This rush is facilitated by the award of mining licenses to Chinese companies.

But this exploitation, which involves an excessive use of mercury to more easily extract the gold, is resulting in increasing losses of forest cover and the degradation of rivers in the Sangha region. The result has been ecological disaster. Local and traditional populations in the surrounding villages are now in short supply of key natural resources like drinking water and traditional medicines. 

The Republic of the Congo, along with other countries in the Congo Basin, had made ambitious commitments to strengthen forest and climate governance, but these goals have been undermined by violations of forestry and mining rules and regulations, widespread corruption, and weak institutions. 

Journalist Marien Nzikou-Massala traveled to the field, collected testimonies from community members, company representatives, NGO members and public authorities to carry out a reporting project. The result is a text report accompanied by photos about the environmental impacts of mining in Sangha's forested districts Mokeko, Sembé, and Souanké—nearly 1000 kilometers north of the capital.