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Massacre in Kilwa facilitated by Anvil Mining, operating Dikulushi open pit, Katanga province, DR Congo

The Kilwa incident (2004) implied the use by the Congolese military of Anvil Mining’s logistic and personnel to crush armed rebels in the town, killing about 100 people – the majority of them civilians.


This is a case of delayed and very insufficient justice. It is related to Anvil Mining's actions in 2004, near its copper mine Dikulushi. On October 14, 2004 a small group of ten lightly armed men took control over the city of Kilwa, in eastern Congo, 50 kilometers away from Dikulushi mine. Their leader, Kazadi, declared the independence of Katanga province. He had little following. He apparently knew that he could count on frustration prevalent amongst the local community in relation to Anvil Mining. This mining company exploited the rich silver/copper mine in Dikulushi allegedly with the support of certain members of the presidential team who had links with Katanga businessmen. The company was accused by parts of the population of employing non-native persons and of not contributing enough to the improvement of the life of the local community. The following day,the DRC army (FARDC) launched a heavy attack on the city, killing 73 people on the spot, more than 20 of them been summary executions. FARDC committed several serious human rights violations, arbitrarily killing civilians, looting the population, women were raped and many civilians also died weeks or months later from their injuries. Eye-witnesses stated that vehicles of the company Anvil transported soldiers to Kilwa and later to transport dead bodies and looted goods. Kilwa is the city from where the silver and the copper of Dikulushi mine were exported through the lake Mweru to Zambia for being processed. The uprising in Kilwa blocked Anvil’s access to its port on the lake. Anvil representatives first denied those facts [1]. Without the company’s help, it would have taken days for the soldiers to get to Kilwa from their base in Pweto, but with Anvil’s vehicles it took them half a day. The United Nations’ Mission in the Democratic of Congo (MONUC) carried on an investigation. The Canadian-Australian company Anvil was found by the UN investigators guilty of logistically and financially supporting the Congolese army military actions in Kilwa. These conclusions by the UN mission, and further investigations by independent journalists [2], found out that Anvil supplied FARDC with drivers, trucks, rations and flew in troops on its chartered planes. Patricia Feeney, the executive Director of Rights and Accountability in Development, characterizes this type of events as an industry-facilitated massacre [3]. After the conclusions by MONUC, Anvil could no longer deny those allegations and the company’s CEO argued they had to satisfy the DRC government’s requisitions. Yet the document justifying that DRC officials gave such an order to Anvil managers was produced by Anvil eight months after the massacre [3]. After MONUC and other national and international NGOs investigated the incident, DRC prosecutors launched investigations of their own.  On 12 October 2006, a military prosecutor charged certain FARDC soldiers with breaches of international humanitarian law and accused three Anvil Mining employees of facilitating the abuses by placing vehicles at the disposal of the army. On 12 December 2006, the Lubumbashi military high court started to hear the case.  Towards the end of the trial, the military prosecutor indicated that there was insufficient evidence of intent to establish that Anvil Mining or its employees had been complicit in war crimes.  On 28 June 2007, the court acquitted 12 defendants, including the three employees of Anvil Mining.   The court took the view that no summary executions had occurred in Kilwa, but that people had been killed during “fierce” fighting between the rebels and the army.  In December 2007, an appeal against the court’s judgment was denied [4]. The victims of Kilwa massacre obtained the support of several international human rights NGOs but the international support and actions endured successive failures to obtain justice in Canadian and Australian courts. Following a complaint filed by lawyers representing Kilwa villagers, in September 2005, the Australian Federal Police launched an inquiry into the actions of Anvil Mining to establish if there was evidence of the company’s complicity in war crimes and crimes against humanity.  The inquiry was closed in August 2007 following the acquittal of the Anvil Mining defendants in the DRC lawsuit. In November 2010, the Canadian Association Against Impunity (an association representing survivors of the incidents in October 2004) launched a civil class action against the company in the Quebec Superior Court.  The plaintiffs alleged that Anvil Mining was complicit in the human rights violations that occurred in Kilwa in 2004.  In late April 2011, the Superior Court of Quebec ruled that the case may proceed to the next phase.  The judge found that the case had sufficient links to Quebec in order to establish the court's jurisdiction to hear the case.  On 24 January 2012 the Quebec Court of Appeals reversed and dismissed the case.  The appeals court ruled that it lacked the necessary legislation to allow the case to proceed.  The plaintiffs appealed this dismissal to the Canadian Supreme Court on 26 March 2012.  On 1 November 2012, the Canadian Supreme Court announced that it would not hear the plaintiffs' appeal. In November 2010, after the several failures to obtain justice in national instances, the Rights and Accountability in Development (RAID) and the Congo-based Action Against Impunity and Human Rights (ACIDH), joined forces with the Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA) to submit a complaint to the African Commission of Human and Peoples’ Rights, on behalf of 8 victims from Kilwa massacre. Other victims feared repercussions from the Congolese government officials and declined to be associated with the action. In June 2017, the Commission found the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo responsible for the Kilwa massacre, taking a landmark decision, and demanded that victims be awarded $2.5 million as compensation. In spite of this legal victory, it must be recalled that the Congolese State has never paid the damages fined by any court in favor of civil victims. [5]. It is feared that this $2.5 million will be added to the accumulating debt and it might never be paid. On December 5th, 2017, the African Commission requested to the Anvil Mining Company to publicly acknowledge its responsibility in the massacre and to contribute to the financial reparations granted by the Commission to the victims and their families [6]. 

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Massacre in Kilwa facilitated by Anvil Mining, operating Dikulushi open pit, Katanga province, DR Congo
Country:Congo, Dem. Rep.
State or province:Katanga Province
Location of conflict:Kilwa
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Other
Mineral processing
Specific commodities:Silver
Project Details and Actors
Project details

In 2004, Anvil Mining Limited was incorporated in the Northwest Territories, Canada, and listed on both the Toronto Stock Exchange and the Australian Stock Exchange. Anvil Mining Limited, through its wholly owned subsidiaries Anvil Management NL (Australia) and Anvil Mining Holdings Limited (United Kingdom), had a 90% holding in Anvil Mining Congo SARL, which owned Dikulushi Mine, one of the richest copper-silver mines in the world. The total of measured, indicated and inferred reserves of copper in Dikulushi mine were estimated by Anvil to 1,722,000 tons [1]. However, although the mine is high grade, it is relatively small. Dikulushi mine was Anvil’s principal asset and source of revenue. In the six months to the end of 2004, out of a revenue of $16.2 million, Dikulushi accounted for $15.8 million or 98%. [1]. The license for the exploitation of Dikulushi pit was granted during the Congolese civil war. The legal requirements to negotiate with Gecamines, the State-owned mining company, were overstep [2]. The Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), the World the Bank’s political risk insurer, approved the Dikulushi mining project and provided a $13.3 millions of political risk insurance to cover Dikulushi mine, including cover against damage resulting from war and civil disturbance [4]. After Kilwa massacre, in August 2005 the World Bank President, Paul Wolfowitz, asked MIGA’s Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) to conduct an investigation of MIGA’s due diligence on the Dikulushi project [3]. “‘The CAO report found systemic problems in the way MIGA, the Bank’s political risk insurer, does business. According to the report, MIGA evaluated the risks of conflict to its client and the company’s assets but did not adequately consider the risks that the project poses to local communities” [4]. According to sources such as the UN MONUC, the UK-based Rights and Accountability in Development (RAID), Action Contre l’Impunité pour les Droits Humains (ACIDH) and ASADHO/Katanga (Association Africaine de Défense des Droits de l' Homme and many others, the Kilwa Incident of October 2004 implied the use made by the Congolese military of Anvil Mining’s logistic and personnel in a counter-offensive to crush insurgents in the town. About 100 people – the majority of them innocent civilians –have been killed by the Congolese Armed Forces (Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo – FARDC). The killings occurred during an operation to suppress a small-scale rebellion in Kilwa, a town of 48,000 inhabitants. Kilwa is located in Katanga Province in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), 350 km to the north of the regional capital, Lubumbashi. The town is close to Anvil’s Dikulushi mine. Kilwa is crucial to Anvil' s copper and silver mining operation, as it is a port on Lake Mweru from which the ore is shipped across to Zambia for processing. Dikulushi was operated by Anvil Mining from May 2002 until December 2008, when it was placed on care and maintenance due to the low prices of copper. In 2010, the pit was sold 90% of its shareholding in the Dikulushi mine to Mawson West Limited. The mine reopened in July that very same year [5]. Dikulushi is one of the richest copper/silver mines in the world. In August 2011, Mawson announced the completion of a feasibility study concerning the exploitation of part of the remaining known in situ resource at Dikulushi through an open pit. Total measured and indicated mineral resources are estimated at 767.000 tons, with a grade of 6.6% copper and 179 g/t silver. By the end of 2013 Mawson started underground mining [6]. Since January 2015, there is no longer industrial production at Dikulushi, Mawson West stated the mine was not economically viable anymore [7].

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Project area:400
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:01/01/2004
Company names or state enterprises:Anvil Mining from Canada - Operated the mine until 2008 and sold it in 2010
Mawson West Limited from Australia - Bought the pit in 2010
Relevant government actors:The Congolese Army FARDC
International and Finance InstitutionsUnited Nations peacekeeping mission based in Congo (MONUC) - Investigated the Kilwa massacre and found the Congolese government guilty
African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights from Gambia, The
Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:The Rights and Accountability in Development (RAID), the Institute
for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA), Global Witness, The Canadian Association Against Impunity, the Congo-based Action Against Impunity and Human Rights (ACIDH), Association Africaine de Défense des Droits de l’Homme.
Conflict & Mobilization
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:International ejos
Local ejos
Armed rebels, wih grievance against the DRC government and the Anvil Mining company
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Threats to use arms
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Mine tailing spills, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Deaths, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..)
Other Health impactsMany deaths because of the army's action (with some support from Anvil Mining) against the rebels and the population of Kilwa, women were raped during the army counter-attack and several died from their injuries.
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Specific impacts on women
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Other socio-economic impactsAlledged corruption. Industry-facilitated massacre.
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Court decision (undecided)
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The Anvil Mining Company cooperated to some extent with the DR Congo's army to put down a local rebellion, many people were killed. The local population was terrorized. Many years went by after 2004 without the Anvil Mining Company being made liable for what had appened in Kilwa in 2004.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Canadian Center for international Justice, the Anvil Mining case
[click to view]

The World Bank in the Democratic Republic of Congo, March 2006 Update
[click to view]

Mining company analysis: Anvil Mining Limited
[click to view]

CAO Audit of MIGA’s Due Diligence of the Dikulushi Copper-Silver Mining Project in The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Final Report 2005
[click to view]

Fatal Extraction, Australian Mining in Africa, The international Consortium of Investigative Journalists
[click to view]

Centre Canadien pour la Justice internationale, le cas de la mine de Anvil en RDC
[click to view]

Technical Report on the Dikulushi Underground Project, Democratic Republic of Congo: A technical report on the Underground Project, Prepared for Mawson West Limited, by Optiro
[click to view]

The Australian TV documentary, 2005
[click to view]

Anvil Mining Congo SARL, Dikulushi Mining Operation, Environmental Impact Assessment, April 2003
[click to view]

Report on the conclusions of the Special Investigation concerning allegations of summary executions and other human rights violations perpetrated by the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) in Kilwa (Katanga Province) on 15 October 2004.
[click to view]

Congo, Democratic Republic of - Dikulushi Copper Silver Project : environmental impact assessment (English), The World Bank
[click to view]

Anvil Mining sells Dikulushi project to Mawson West, 26 February 2010
[click to view]

Canadian NGOs' coalition representing the victims of Kilwa massacre
[click to view]

Mawson starts mining at Dikulushi copper-silver mine in Congo, 12 November 2013
[click to view]

RD Congo : Mawson West revoit ses activités sur le cuivre à Dikulushi et Kapulo, 22 Janvier 2015
[click to view]

Anvil in Kilwa, DRC, 2004, RAID website
[click to view]

William Clowes, African Body Urges Congo to Prosecute Anvil Over Mine Deaths, 15 August, 2017
[click to view]

Dikulushi Project, Mawson West Limited
[click to view]

Massacre de Kilwa : le gouvernement congolais sommé de payer une indemnité historique de 2,5 millions de dollars aux victimes, 4 aout 2017
[click to view]

Katthryn Leger, Canadian company named in Congo class action suit, Nov 10, 2010
[click to view]

Mawson West places Dikulushi mine on care and maintenance, 21 Janvier 2015
[click to view]

Letter to Anvil Mining Company on its role in human rights violations in the DRC, African Commission on human and Peoples' Rights
[click to view]

African Commission urges Anvil Mining to pay compensation to victims in Congo, 2 February 2018, Holger Hembach
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[1] Business and Human Rights Resource Centre. Anvil Mining lawsuit (re Dem. Rep. of Congo).
[click to view]

[2]Anvil Mining Limited and the Kilwa Incident . Unanswered Questions 20 October 2005
[click to view]

Briefing Document / May 5, 2008. The Kilwa Appeal - A Travesty of Justice. Global Witness.
[click to view]

Ten years on: still no justice for Kilwa victims, RAID
[click to view]

Q&A, The Kilwa Massacre and the Landmark Decision of the African Commission of Human and Peoples Rights, Published by RAID
[click to view]

Le procès de Kilwa : un déni de justice. Chronologie Octobre 2004 – juillet 2007, RAId, Global Witness, ACIDH, ASADHO/KATANG
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:EnvJustice Team, JMA and Camila Rolando Mazzuca
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:3520
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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