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Angolan authorities continue to assess incident at Catoca diamond mine

The Secretary of State for Environment said this Wednesday that a multi-sectoral group continues to work on the recent incident with the Catoca Mine, in Lunda Sul province, whose consequences are said to have caused the pollution of two rivers.

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"The multisectoral group is working, the laboratory has not yet presented its final report, but we believe that as soon as there is, because there are still experts on the ground and also the process of national engagement, we will be able to give precise information," said Paula Francisco, questioned by Lusa.

In question is an incident registered, last July, with the Catoca diamond mine, with a rupture in the pipeline that works as a spillway, having caused a leak in the Lova river and adjacent.

Questioned if any sanctions will be applied to the company, Paula Francisco answered that "it is necessary to analyze and see, within what is the application of the law at a national level".

Paula Francisco stressed that the inspection of mining companies is done mainly based on the licensing and mitigation measures that come with it.

According to the company, the rupture has been completely stopped and the process of natural replenishment of the ecosystems of the affected rivers is taking place.

Meanwhile, the authorities of the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo claim that 12 people have died since July due to contamination of the Kasai and Tshikapa rivers, following the spillage of liquids from mines in Angola.

"This is the number we have so far: 12 people have died because of the contamination of these rivers, which can no longer be used until they are disinfected," DRC Environment Ministry spokesman Michel Koyakpa told Spanish news agency, EFE, last Saturday.

According to the Congolese official, "the fishermen are stopped and many fish and other species have died, not to mention other dangers to the ecosystem."

The Congolese government, which says the international companies operating the Angolan Catoca mine, the world's fourth largest in diamond production, are to blame for the spills, and is asking the country and the companies for compensation for the damage.

In a press release issued Saturday, the Catoca Mining Society reiterated that the tailings pond contains only mixtures of natural rocks, such as sand and clay, and the composition of the matter corresponds roughly to the mud flows in the rainy season and contains no external chemical components, allowing us to state that such a situation does not pose a risk of life for the affected populations.

"When we registered the incident our team acted immediately to stop the rupture and by the end of July the process was normalized. At this point, our main goal is to minimize the impact of this incident, helping local communities and working in cooperation with experts from different public and private institutions to prevent any future accidents," the document states.

At this time, work is underway to conduct an independent audit of the hydraulic structures and other production facilities, with the involvement of international experts to identify or eliminate the risk of similar incidents in the future, an action recommended by the multisectoral commission accompanying the work.

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