Kinshasa, DRC — MININGREVIEW.COM — 25 October 2010 – The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is to delay the reopening of the mining sector in its troubled eastern provinces, probably by two weeks, due to ongoing security problems.
Some 80% of the DRC’s tin comes from the region, where both rebel groups and government soldiers are jostling for control over lucrative illicit artisanal mining operations, according to evidence from the U.N. and other sources.
“I would not like to risk giving a date any more, but I do think that the situation is coming back to normal. Probably in two weeks’ time we may decide to reopen mining activities,” mines minister Martin Kabwelulu told investors here at the opening of an infrastructure conference.
The government of the DRC suspended mining operations in North Kivu, South Kivu and Maniema provinces in September in a move aimed at cutting off funding to illegal networks fuelling the region’s violence.
But the move was widely seen as unenforceable and hurtful to local populations, and the government subsequently said it would lift the ban between October 15 and 20.
Head of the North Kivu exporters association John Kanyoni told the conference mineral stocks worth more than US$30 million (R204 million) had accumulated in North and South Kivu alone since the ban was put in place.
Since the ban, some factions of the DRC army have taken up artisanal mining operations, leaving their posts to enrich themselves in the same way as the rebels they are fighting do, according to U.N. documents and sources.