DR Congo

Analysis of the interactive map of artisanal mining areas in Eastern DR Congo: 2015 update

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Since 2009 the Belgian research institute International Peace Information Service (IPIS) has published maps containing data on mineral production and security issues at mining sites in eastern DR Congo. The interactive web maps and accompanying reports have provided important information to a wide range of international stakeholders that are trying to address the links between armed groups’ financing modalities, and mineral exploitation and trade.

The interactive web map presented with this report shows the location of 253 trading centres and 2,026 mining sites in eastern DR Congo, 1,615 of which have been visited by IPIS teams since 2013. The map provides information about the on-site presence and activities of armed groups and the Congolese army (FARDC), as well as indicators of the relative importance of the site. It also shows whether mining sites have been ‘validated’ (licensed to operate) by the Congolese government or if they are covered by the iTSCi supply chain initiative. With the map, IPIS and the Congolese Mining Register (Cadastre Minier, CAMI) provide an update of information gathered in a project that has been running since 2013, financed by IOM, PROMINES (World Bank) and the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The current report presents a detailed analysis of the data gathered at the 775 active mines visited by the IPIS teams in 2015. It also includes a general analysis of the 1,615 mines visited in the period 2013-2015, which employ around 239,700 miners.

Gold is by far the most important mineral in eastern DR Congo’s artisanal mining sector, with around 80% of the miners in the 2013-2015 dataset working in a gold mines. Based on a conservative analysis of the production estimates, a digger produces on average around 1.17 grams of gold per week, which leads to an estimated annual production of 11.6 tons of gold on the mining sites that were visited by the field teams between 2013 and 2015.

In the 2013-2015 dataset the 3T sector employs around 16% of the artisanal miners in eastern DRC. Of the estimated 42,800 3T miners in the dataset, approximately 22,400 were working on mining sites covered by the iTSCi traceability program.

The field teams observed an armed presence at 56% of the mines between 2013 and 2015. At 38% of the mines, FARDC elements were permanently or regularly present, although in 11 percentage points, no interference with mining activities was observed. At least one non-state armed group was present at 25 % of the mining sites. When disaggregating the data between 3T minerals and gold, it immediately becomes apparent that there is far less armed interference in the 3T sector. About 21 % of artisanal 3T miners in our 2013-2015 survey work under the influence of armed actors, compared to 64 % in the gold sector.

Several differences appear between each of the eastern provinces. In the territories that have been visited in the former Orientale province, gold was nearly the only mineral that artisanal miners exploited. In its southern territories, bordering North Kivu and Maniema, more than 90 % of the miners in the 2015 dataset are working in mines where armed men were observed. The main armed actors interfering in former Orientale’s gold sector are FARDC elements. There have also been some cases of interference by Mai-Mai Simba and FRPI rebels.

In North Kivu, 3T minerals are also an important source of income for many artisanal miners: 32% of them work in 3T mines, whereas 69%3 of them work in gold mines. The province’s mining sector is traditionally affected by the interference of armed men, even though two major mining sites have been demilitarised over the last years, i.e. Omate and Bisie. Besides elements of the FARDC, fighters of the armed groups FDLR and NDC are notorious for the income they generate from North Kivu’s mining sector. For example, illegal taxation at a string of gold mines in Lubero territory renders the FDLR more than 6,000 USD per week.

Gold is also by far the number one mineral in South Kivu, employing 87 % of the province’s workforce in the 2015 dataset. As opposed to North Kivu, there is a clearer difference between various minerals with regards to levels of armed interference. 77 % of the visited gold mines endure some form of armed presence, while this is 46 % for 3T mines. While FARDC elements are by far the main armed actors interfering in the province’s artisanal mining sector, the Raïa Mutomboki are also present at some mines in Shabunda.

Maniema’s mining sites are largely free from militarisation, as opposed to the other provinces. Despite the relatively low interference of armed men in the province’s mining sector, a lot of barriers to curtail illegal trade persist. Nevertheless, some responsible trading initiatives are currently being developed in Maniema, i.e. the iTSCi traceability system and the support to the cooperative COMICA at the Matete gold mine near Banro Corporation’s concession. These efforts however still have to cope with several incidents and complaints of local actors.

At mining sites that have been visited in the old Katanga province (Tanganyika, Haut-Lomami and Haut-Katanga), there were hardly any reports of armed actors’ interference.