Forgotten Congolese Uranium Mine

  75 years ago, the United States dropped two atomic bombs on Japan. What is not known is that the Congo (DRC) in Africa played an important role in the manufacturing process of nuclear weapons.
  On August 6 this year, a bell rang in Hiroshima, Japan, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the city’s nuclear explosion. Dignitaries and survivors gathered to mourn the victims of the attack. Thousands of river lanterns with prayers for peace float on the Yuan’an River. Three days later, Nagasaki also held a similar commemorative event.
  Congo (DRC) as far away as Africa has never held such an event. Few people know what New Kolobwe is, let alone how this place is related to the nuclear explosion in Japan. In fact, this small mine in the province of Katanga in the south of the Congo (DRC) provided almost all the uranium needed for the Manhattan Project that developed the atomic bomb by the United States. It is the first and only use of nuclear weapons in human history. Played an important role in the war.
  ”The word’New Kolobwe’ gave me infinite grief and sadness.” said Susan Williams, a historian of the Commonwealth Institute. “This is not a happy word, it reminds me of terrible Sad past.”
  South Africa’s “Congo Democratic Society” (CCSSA) Chairman Isiah Mumbilo said: “When talking about the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, people never mentioned New Kolobwe. Part of the history has been lost.”
  However, the story of the mine did not end with the dropping of the atomic bomb. As Williams said, this is a tragedy that continues to this day. She studied the role played by New Kolobwe in the book “The Congolese”, revealing that the Western powers not only covet the mining of uranium, but also want to control the mined uranium, which has become the bane of the country’s turmoil. .
  Mongbilo is also running around. He wants people to realize that Congo (Kinshasa) played an important role in the formation of the outcome of World War II, and therefore bears a heavy burden. In 2016, CCSSA held a forum called “The Missing Link”. Activists, historians, analysts and children affected by the atomic bombing from Japan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo attended the forum. “We are planning to retrieve the history of New Kolobwe, so that we can let the world know what happened that year.” Monbilo said.
  | Secret |
  The story of New Kolobwe began in 1915, when the Belgian Congo was still under the colonial rule of Belgium, where colonists discovered rich uranium deposits. However, there was little demand for uranium at that time, and uranium ore was called “valueless rock.” However, the Belgian Union Mining Company still carried out mining in New Kolobwe, not for uranium, but to find traces of radium from it-a kind of research by French scientist Marie Curie and her husband Pierre Curie The latest radioactive element isolated at that time.
  The potential of uranium was not revealed until nuclear fission was discovered in 1938. After learning of this discovery, Albert Einstein immediately wrote to US President Franklin Roosevelt, suggesting that he use this element to create infinite energy and even powerful bombs. In 1942, in order to promote the Manhattan Project for the development of the atomic bomb, American military strategists decided to buy as much uranium as possible. Although there are uranium mines in Colorado and Canada, no place in the world has uranium reserves comparable to that of the Belgian Congo.
  American writer Tom Zollner visited New Kolobwe when he wrote “Uranium-War, Energy, and the Rock that Shapes the World”. He said that the geological conditions of New Kolobwe can be described as “natural freaks”. Because in any other mining area, you can’t see purer uranium than here.
  If the mines in the United States and Canada can dig out 0.03% uranium ore, it will be considered a “good” prospect. Then, what is the term for New Kolobvir, which contains 65% uranium in the ore? Describe it? There, even the tailings considered to be of poor quality and not worth processing contain 20% uranium.
  After negotiations with the Belgian Union Mining Company (30% of the shares are held by the British), the United States obtained 1,200 tons of uranium, which was shipped to Staten Island in New York for storage, and another 3,000 tons were stored in New Kolob On the ground of Wei Mine. But this was not enough. In order to obtain more uranium, the United States sent Army engineers to New Kolobwe to drain the water from the local abandoned mines and put it back into production.
  From then on, under Belgian rule, Belgian Congolese workers worked day and night in open-pit mines, sending hundreds of tons of uranium ore to the United States every month. Mambilo said: “New Kolobwe will determine who will be the next master of the world. Everything starts from there.”
  To avoid the Manhattan Project from being known by the Axis powers, all this is done under confidentiality. New Kolobway was erased from the map, and spies were sent to the area to deliberately spread false news and confuse the audience. They called uranium a “gem” or simply a “raw material”. As for the “New Kolobwe” Words are never mentioned.
  For a long time after the end of World War II, this secret was still kept. Williams said that relevant parties are trying their best to convince people that the uranium comes from Canada, so as to divert the attention of the outside world to the Congo. She said that this secrecy has been so thorough that people still believe that the uranium used to make the atomic bomb was produced in Canada.
  After the war, the new Kolobwe was shrouded in the clouds of the Cold War. Although improvements in enrichment technology have made Western countries less dependent on uranium produced in New Kolobwe, in order to curb the nuclear ambitions of other countries, the United States and other Western countries have never relaxed their control of the mine. Williams said: “Although the United States no longer needs the uranium in New Kolobwe, it does not want the Soviet Union to acquire the mine.”
  In 1960, after the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which was freed from Belgian colonial rule, gained independence, the mine was closed and the entrance was closed. It was sealed by cement pouring. But the Western powers are still not at ease. They hope that any future government in New Kolobwe will always take care of their interests. “Since there was a demand for uranium, the United States and other powers have tried to ensure that the place can no longer be targeted by other countries.” Monbello said, “Whoever wants to be in power here must accept their control.”
  According to Zollner, Western countries regard the containment of the Eastern camp as a top priority. To achieve this goal, they overthrew the elected government of Patrice Lumumba and established a new government in 1965 by supporting Mobutu Sese Seko. Since then, decades of chaebol rule have begun.
  The ideals, hopes, and visions of the Congolese (Kinshasa) people were thus destroyed by the military and political interests of the Western powers, but they never gave up fighting for a better situation for themselves.
  | The scars are not healed|The
  Mobutu government was finally overthrown in 1997, but New Kolobwe, like a ghost, continues to haunt the Congo. Attracted by the abundant copper and cobalt deposits, miners began to secretly mine around the sealed mines in the area. By the end of the 20th century, about 15,000 miners and their families had gathered at the New Kolobwe mine. The miners secretly mined radioactive ores without any protective measures, and mining accidents were not uncommon. Later, Western countries worried that the uranium mined here would be smuggled to terrorist organizations or hostile countries, so they urged the Congolese (DRC) army to razing the miner village in 2004.
  To this day, many official records of the United States, the United Kingdom and Belgium regarding New Kolobwe have not been declassified. Therefore, it is difficult to recognize the contribution of the Congolese people to the victory of the Allied Forces in World War II, and it is impossible to investigate the New Kolobwe mine. The negative impact of the farm on the surrounding environment and people’s health.
  In Williams’ view, this should be regarded as part of the long-term exploitation of Congo by foreign forces: first colonial occupation, then neo-imperialism. She said: “The Congo (DRC) suffered great pain during World War II. The locals were forced to mine uranium, and the economic returns from mining were also taken away by the shareholders of United Mining Corporation.”
  ”The impact is reflected in medicine, politics, and politics. “Economy and many other aspects,” said Monbello, “because of confidentiality, we cannot know the negative effects of radiation.” Among the children born in this area, there are many physical deformities, but few medical records are kept. A person Mumbilo knew died because of radiation that caused brain plasma to flow out of his skull. But for many years, there hasn’t even been a specialized hospital in the local area, nor has it carried out targeted research and treatment. Many people affected by New Kolobwe are currently carrying out a rights defense campaign, demanding recognition and compensation.
  ”New Kolobwe is a curse of Congo (DRC).” Mumbilo said, but he added that for more than a century, the rich resources of Congo (DRC) have made possible successive global technological revolutions: for tires. The rubber promotes the development of the automobile industry. Uranium provides fuel for nuclear reactors, coltan is used to make computers in the information age, and cobalt provides power for mobile phones and electric car batteries… “Our world is being used by Congo (DRC) All these advanced technologies have something to do with it.” Monbello said.
  The impact of Congo (DRC) on the world is immeasurable. Putting the name “New Kolobwe” alongside Hiroshima and Nagasaki should be the first step in repaying this debt.