The man was digging a toilet in his back yard when his shovel struck a shimmering blue vein of cobalt. At least that's the legend in Kolwezi. Once a few locals discovered the metal underfoot five years ago, everyone grabbed shovels and pickaxes; they tunnelled beneath homes, schools and churches. And that's how a working-class suburb, on the edge of a densely populated city of half a million, became a hive of pits and tunnels. "My neighbours started to dig in 2013 and I followed their lead," said Edmond Kalenga, who went as deep as 20m under his home. "The minerals are like a snake moving through the village. You just followed the snake." All told, he made $12000 (about R140000) selling the metal to local middlemen - a fortune in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where most people live on less than $1.90 a day. He built a five-room house in a new part of town. Others weren't so lucky. Dozens were dying in the mines each week until officials banned the digging in April last year, acc...

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