Four Chinese-run gold mines in the Central African Republic should be closed because of pollution threatening public health, a parliamentary panel said in a report published on July 13th.
According to AFP, "Ecological disaster," "polluted river," "public health threatened," were some of the phrases used in the report.
"Gold mining by the Chinese firms at Bozoum is not profitable for the state and harmful to the population and the environment," the commission found after its investigation into mining in the northern town.
"The nature of the ecological disaster discovered onsite justifies the immediate, unconditional halt to these activities," the report stated.
Members of the commission spent four days in Bozoum a month ago in response to "multiple complaints from the population."
There, they found a badly polluted River Ouham, devoid of several aquatic species following the excavation of its riverbed.
They discovered a rising death rate in fishing villages as well as shrinking access to clean drinking water.
The commission also turned up suspicions of accounting irregularities during its investigation.
"Average production is between 400 grams (1 lb) to 1 kilo per site per month. This situation seems unacceptable with regard to daily production costs," the report says.
The investigators also raised concerns that the country's "resources are being squandered with the complicity of certain ministry of mines officials."
A local missionary, Father Aurelio Gazzera, has published a video showing the state of the River Ouham and named the four Chinese firms linked to the mining as Tian Xian, Tian Run, Meng and Mao.
The CAR is rich in natural resources but riven by conflict which has forced around 25% of its 4.5 million population to flee their homes.
Under these circumstances, exploitation of the country's natural resources is difficult to monitor effectively, given that the state has only partial control of its own territory.