News / Africa

DRC to Export Stockpiled Minerals

Miner in eastern Congo digs for ore to produce tin in this 2012 photo. Miner in eastern Congo digs for ore to produce tin in this 2012 photo.
Miner in eastern Congo digs for ore to produce tin in this 2012 photo.
Miner in eastern Congo digs for ore to produce tin in this 2012 photo.
Nick Long
Minerals that were stockpiled in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo because of a ban on mining activities are now on their way to being exported, according to traders in the city of Goma.  The pressure group Global Witness says it is not clear that the stockpiled minerals have not funded conflict.  

Non-industrial mining, which provides a livelihood for millions of people in Congo, was banned in 2010 in the provinces of North and South Kivu. The ban came at a time when the government was under heavy international pressure to clean up the industry in the Kivus and prevent it from benefiting armed groups and soldiers who were selling them weapons.

Since then the ban on mining and trading minerals has been lifted in a few parts of the provinces, but is still in place in Walikale territory where the richest deposits are concentrated. Recently the central government authorized the sale of 400 tons of stockpiled tin ore, which was extracted in Walikale before the mining ban.  It has also allowed two trading houses, both Chinese-owned, to reopen in Goma.

Malela Ngoma is a manager at one of these houses, owned by the Hua Ying company. Ngoma says the stockpiles are now being moved to Goma.

The minerals are coming by road, he said, and are currently passing through a forest on the way to Goma.
A manager at the other export house, CMM, gave his name as Jean Pierre Koti.  He confirms the mineral shipment is en route but says there could be delays due to a shortage of heavy trucks.  
A trader who asked for his name to be withheld says some of the minerals have already arrived in Goma, and that there may be an attempt to smuggle out 5,000 tons of ore under cover of the exemption for 400 tons.

Prince Kihangi, a traditional leader from Walikale, heads a civil society group that tries to monitor the minerals trade.

He says his group will check whether only 400 tons are exported.  If trading continues after the export quota has been reached, Prince Kihangi says that would constitute illegal trafficking.

The pressure group Global Witness, which campaigns on mining governance issues, says Congolese law obligates the two Chinese trading houses to ensure that proceeds of the mineral sales are not supporting conflict groups.
"My message to them would be: 'Have you undertaken any form of check?  Are you sure that the minerals that you’re buying, stockpiled or not, have not in one way or another funded conflict?'  I don’t know how they can be sure of that," said Global Witness campaigner Sophia Pickles.

Prince Kihangi agrees there may be that risk.  However, he also says the risk is reduced these days, as armed groups no longer are present in the area where this ore was mined.  He says that is now true of most of the mining zones in Walikale.  Mining could be restarted there, he adds, but for one obstacle.

The problem that remains, Prince Kihangi says, is the presence of the military at the mines, which hinders the process of tracing mineral shipments.  However, the Walikale leader says he thinks mining can be restarted because the real threat came from the armed groups, not the national army.  
The manager of the Hua Ying trading, Zhu Zhong, contends that some mines in Walikale should certainly be reopened.

"The U.N. mission MONUSCO is there," he says, "and yet all the mining is shut down," Zhong said.

"It’s a big problem," he continues.  "Where will people find the money to feed themselves, or go to the hospital, or send their children to school?"

The provincial minister for mines, Jean Paul Ruyange, told VOA the authorities want to send a mission to Walikale to validate the mines - in other words, check that they can reopen. He said the main obstacle is that technical experts from a German agency called BGR (Bundesanstalt fuer Geowissenschaften und Rollstoffe) are supposed to accompany any validation mission, and they have not been authorized to travel to the interior of North Kivu.

A source at BGR tells VOA the technical team is ready to accompany a DRC validation mission, but is awaiting an invitation from Congolese authorities.

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

By the Numbers

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syriai
November 26, 2015 5:21 AM
Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs