July 2, 2020 / 2:46 PM / a month ago

Coltan supply from SMB mine in Congo unaffected by clashes - mines minister

Labourers work at SMB coltan mine near the town of Rubaya in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, August 13, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner/File Photo

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Activity at Societe Miniere de Bisunzu’s (SMB) coltan mine in Congo’s North Kivu province is continuing as normal and supply chains were not disrupted despite violent clashes last week, the region’s mines minister said on Thursday.

SMB has some of Africa’s biggest deposits of coltan, an ore rich in tantalum, which is used widely in smartphones.

An attack took place in the evening of June 23 in Kisura village within an unmined part of SMB’s site near Bibatama, David Kamuha Musubaho said in a letter dated June 27 and seen by Reuters on Thursday.

Three people died in the incident and two were injured, the minister said. A judicial enquiry to establish the circumstances of and responsibility for the attack has begun.

A commission overseeing North Kivu mining activities met on Wednesday with those involved in the mining sector to protect SMB’s mineral supply chain, the minister said.

“The provincial minister of mines and finance calls on all actors in the mineral supply chains of Masisi territory to find calm and appeasement while we await the outcome of the enquiry,” Kamuha Musubaho wrote.

Reporting by Helen Reid; Editing by Jan Harvey

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