CONGO

Tuesday 15 May 2001

Illegal mining of Coltan is threatening the protected areas of Congo Kinshasa ( drc ) town. Coltan is a hardening agent for metal used by a number of industries. According to the World Conservation Union ( iucn ), the mining activities are damaging the ecosystem of two important world heritage sites: Kahuzi-Biega National Park and the Okapi Wildlife Reserve. Over 10,000 miners have moved into these sites and are killing animals for food. "Large-scale mining could prove to be the death-knell to the ecology of the region. This is in violation of world heritage principles. Streams and forests are being destroyed and the livelihood of the indigenous people in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve is also under threat," says David Sheppard, iucn 's head of programme on protected areas.

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