The "copper belt" situated in the Southeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo, holds 34% of the world reserves of cobalt and 10% of the world copper reserves. In early 2011, copper prices reached its historic record: $10,000 US per ton on the London Metal Exchange. Since then, the trend continues, maintaining the price at more than $8,000 US per ton. Taking advantage of this unprecedented boom and of the liberalization of the mining sector organized by the World Bank at the beginning of 2000s, immense fortunes are made shielded behind an opaque management of the revenues. Until now, this wealth has benefited only a minority of wheeler-dealers close to the power. Paradoxically, the situation of the some 200,000 "creuseurs" (artisan miners) who make up the majority of the workers has worsened. This sharp rise in prices has attracted multinational companies that chased thousands of them away from the richest sites. The revolts are not rare but are violently repressed.
I collaborate with the Carter Center in the in order to illustrate the mining sector of the rich province of Katanga, in the south-east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, from July 2010 to February 2012. My work was part of a bigger perspective project of the Carter Center aiming at fostering reform in the mining sector. This included mining contract negotiations, training NGOs to conduct Human Rights Impact Assessments in mining communities, and bringing technical expertise to multi-stakeholder (civil society, government, and mining companies) meetings convened for policy dialogue and joint problem-solving in mining practice. The Carter Center built a sustainable means for Congolese and international civil society to access and supplement the scattered bulk of extractive industry information through the CongoMines website, launched in October 2011 (http://www.congomines.org/). Entirely illustrated with my photographs, CongoMines is the initiative's primary transparency tool and a first in DRC transparency efforts, currently featuring an information portal and an interactive map that provides a clear view of the industrial mining sector in Katanga province, complemented with legal, financial, and social mapping layers. My photos are being used by The Carter Center in website and printed publications to illustrate in a compelling way its work toward mining sector reform in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The use of strong thought provoking images, such as children working in mines and the extreme poverty faced by families in mining communities, conveys the importance of its projects in the DRC and helps move people to action – to care, to donate, to want to help change the situation.
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Here are two website examples featuring my photos:
My photos also are used in the Carter Center’s print publications, for example in its latest annual report :
My images also were used in a brochure distributed to Congolese mining communities to illustrate the dangers of child labor in the mines.
The Carter Center’s work in the DRC to promote mining sector reform is important, and I hope my imagery has helped them promote it in a compelling way.
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