AFRICA: DRC tin mining town finds hope in lithium – by Annie Thomas & Lucien Kahozi (Mail and Guardian – March 3, 2022)


Near the rusting carcass of a smelter, barefoot men and women scratch the ground in the quest for cassiterite — the tin oxide ore that generations ago gave the town of Manono a taste of the good life.

The diggers carry the sandy earth to the Lukushi River where women wash the grit in metal bowls, hoping to find some black nuggets from which to make a living. Standing in the water from morning to evening and looking for ore brings in between 15 000 and 18 000 Congolese francs ($7.50 to $9) a day.

“There is nothing else in Manono,” said Marcelline Banza, a 28-year-old mother of three. Patrice Sangwa, the head doctor of Tanganyika province in southeast Democratic Republic of the Congo, said: “Most of the people live below the poverty line and prefer to dig [for cassiterite] rather than work the fields.”

This isolated corner of the country is battling malnutrition, cholera and a measles epidemic that has killed dozens of children since December. But hopes are rising that the impoverished town could be transformed.

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