DRC: the Chemaf Factory at the heart of a pollution controversy

Installations de Chemaf à Lubumbashi/ photo ENET Chris Lumbu

The days go by but seem to be very similar for the Chemical of Africa (Chemaf) mining company in the Haut-Katanga (South-East) province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Not a year goes by without the Usoke Factory in Chemaf located in the town of Kampemba (Lubumbashi), a residential environment being the subject of accusations of pollution and violation of environmental rights to the detriment of local residents.

The last episode of the series is that which occurred in mid-December by certain media and an NGO which accused this company of having released toxic smoke to the chagrin of the communities of the Kabecha and Tshamilemba districts, the two entities neighboring the Usoke factory and which are directly impacted by the action of the miner.

Doing a bloodhound, the editorial staff of Election-net.com media shone its spotlight on this file to learn more about these allegations.

In the two districts of Kampemba municipality (City of Lubumbashi), many people told Election-net.com that they sometimes saw thick dust in the Chemaf / Usoke facilities on a few occasions.

Contacted about this, Evariste Mazeza in charge of Public Relations at Chemaf, invited us to a visit of the Usoke facilities of the Chemaf company.

Everything disappears

In the walls of Usoke, debris of collapsed buildings have taken up residence. In a heap of scrap metal scattered here and gathered there. Chemaf Usoke gives the image of the remains where only relics bear witness to recent manufacturing and metallurgical activity. Activities are almost at a standstill supports Soleil Tshomba Manager production acid plant Chemaf Usoke.

"…our factory here has been shut down for more than a year and on top of that, we are in the process of dismantling the factory. So to say that we are polluting is wrong because who says pollution, there must be solid discharges, there must be liquid and gaseous effluents currently we are in full shutdown, the plant is shut down, where will we all be? these effluents and these solid discharges", he explains, taking the population as a witness.

"And for proof, look on Kiwele streets, there are no more complaints as in the past when people rose up to say that we poured solid rejections on the road because in our process, we send our discharges at the Etoile mine. Go to Kiwele Avenue to observe if a single truck is in operation to say that we are not in operation. So to speak of pollution would be utopian ", he explains.

The Usoke page is turned, the Star mine is moving forward

The mining company Chemaf has therefore definitively turned the page on the Usoke factory where all three factories are a thing of the past. Chemaf concentrated its activities at the Etoile de Kalukuluku mine on the outskirts of Lubumbashi.

Unlike the start of operations at the Usoke plant, the Etoile mine has never been the subject of any protest following the violation of environmental or human rights.

"When you see, Chemaf is constantly expanding. When you look, in 2002 Chemaf started very small but today, Chemaf we have a stop here in Usoke, but we have a factory which is modern at the mine. Etoile. And it is on the basis of the recommendations made to us here that we modeled this modern factory "welcomes Soleil Tshomba Manager of production acid plant Chemaf Usoke.

What of the local communities

Currently, Chemaf strives to maintain its policy of maintaining relations with local residents. Beyond the management of the externalities of its exploitation, the population admits that a permanent dialogue has been established to empty the desiderata according to Evariste Mazeza, in charge of social at Chemaf.

"Today, Chemaf has made a lot of progress in putting the interests of communities at the center of its activities. We have ongoing dialogues with all the local communities that we consider to be our partners."

And add:

“Lately, we have discussed the specifications with all the communities. The draft is already ready and only awaits the signature of this document. This will be done before the end of January. And during these discussions on the specifications, we raised all the questions", said Evariste Mazeza Lukambo.

Far from being limited only to the specifications, Chemaf continues with social actions for the benefit of communities in the fields of health, education and infrastructure.

"Until these days, Chemaf assists communities and especially the underprivileged. We support their health care free of charge, there are some who go through surgical interventions and even ophthalmological problems. Currently, we are in process with the OVD to plug up all the potholes and pig baths on Kiwele Avenue which is very dilapidated. And we are only waiting for the signature of the provincial minister of infrastructure of Haut-Katanga. On the educational level, Chemaf has built a modern school in Shindaika village, and this school which is already operational has been rehabilitated and it is the very first public school in the area "said Evariste Mazeza Lukambo in charge of Public and Social Relations of Chemaf.

It must be said that apart from the Star Factory, Chemaf has already placed the cursor on the Mutoshi project in the town of Kolwezi for a cobalt production project.


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