UPDATE 1-Glencore unit says seven dead after Congo mine-wall collapse last week

Thu Mar 17, 2016 9:40am EDT
 
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(Adds details on mine, background)

TORONTO, March 17 (Reuters) - Katanga Mining, a majority-owned unit of global miner Glencore, said Thursday a collapsed wall at an open-pit mine in southeastern Democratic Republic of Congo had killed all seven people who were there at the time of the incident last week.

The Swiss company, which has so far recovered three bodies from the site, said it had ended the search for the other four following a 10-day effort.

"It is with deep regret that the company must now assume that any individual who was in KOV open pit at the time of the incident will not have survived," Toronto-listed Katanga said in a brief statement.

The company said it continued to work closely with relevant authorities and an investigation was underway to determine the cause of the geotechnical failure that led to the collapse of a 250-metre pit wall last week.

The company had suspended all copper and cobalt processing from the site back in September 2015, but work on maintenance and an $880 million modernization project to cut costs at the site was ongoing.

Katanga said it was now shifting from search and rescue to a recovery phase at the KOV mine, as weather and ground conditions permit.

The KOV mine is one of the largest high-grade copper assets in the world, comprising of four ore bodies that are accessed via two pits, Kamoto East and KOV. The mine was previously operated by the DRC's state-owned mining company Gécamines. (Reporting by Euan Rocha; Editing by Bernadette Baum)