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DRC to lift mining ban soon

DRC mines minister
Martin Kabwelulu
Kinshasa, DRC — MININGREVIEW.COM — 22 September 2010 – The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will soon lift a short-lived ban on mining in its troubled eastern provinces, according to its mines minister.

Ten days ago the government banned mining in North Kivu, South Kivu and Maniema “’ areas rich in gold, tin ore, cassiterite, and the hi-tech mineral coltan. The move was quickly dismissed by analysts as almost impossible to enforce, and one which would not stop material reaching the market.

Mines minister Martin Kabwelulu said that in the coming days the government would establish a commission to look into mining in the east, after which the ban would be lifted. “The suspension of mining activities in the provinces of North and South Kivu, and Maniema, will last 20 or 30 days,” he told journalists.

No major firms operate in the region, but small-scale mining employs thousands, and has been linked to simmering conflicts.

The DRC is under growing international pressure to stop armed groups profiting from mining, but analysts say a clampdown on so-called conflict minerals will be difficult because government troops are themselves heavily involved in the trade.