Congo mineral trade reforms undercut by impunity within the army

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31st October 2014

Efforts to break the links between mining and conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are being thwarted by the illegal involvement of members of the Congolese army in the trade, warns Global Witness, days before a major international conference on ’conflict minerals’ in Kinshasa.

The NGO’s field investigations in eastern Congo reveal that members of the Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo (FARDC) are mining minerals, taxing diggers and mineral traders, and facilitating mineral smuggling – sometimes in official army vehicles. Congolese law prohibits members of the military from owning mines and trading or transporting minerals.

This is revealed as governments, civil society and industry groups prepare for the Forum on responsible mineral supply chains taking place at the Fleuve Congo Hotel in Kinshasa on Monday. The forum is organised by the UN, Great Lakes’ governments and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). This is the first time that the prestigious conference, which is usually held in Paris, will come to Congo. Global Witness warns that discussions risk coming to nothing unless the Congolese government and military authorities remove and discipline members of the national army illegally engaged in the mineral trade.

“While Kinshasa talks reform, it's shocking to see members of the army illegally profiting from the region’s mineral wealth,” said Annie Dunnebacke at Global Witness. “Even when caught red-handed, soldiers are rarely punished. In one case our investigator uncovered, a Colonel in the Congolese army caught illegally transporting minerals early this year was let off apparently because he had ‘helped in the war effort’. This makes a mockery of the government’s public commitments to remove soldiers from the mining sector.”

 Congo’s tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold trade has funded armed groups and elements of the Congolese army throughout the fifteen year conflict in the east of the country. Informal miners, or diggers, work in appalling conditions. Where members of the military or rebel groups infiltrate the mineral trade, diggers’ lives become less secure and their incomes are reduced. Soldiers in the east of Congo can make thousands of dollars a week in each mine they illegally tax.

Congo’s Mining Minister passed a decree in 2012 making it a requirement for all mining and mineral trading companies operating in the country to meet OECD due diligence standards, the international framework for conflict-free mineral sourcing. Global Witness has publicly called on Congo’s mining law, which is being revised, to make OECD due diligence a legal requirement.

Other efforts to remove the military from mines and mining activity are evident, but these are fragile and localised. Energetic efforts by provincial authorities and international monitors in South Kivu removed the army from Nyamurale, a gold mine in Walungu territory, in March of this year. But mines in other parts of South Kivu and in North Kivu and Katanga continue to benefit individuals in the military.

 International efforts to break the links between minerals and men with guns have never been greater. The United States already has legislation in place which requires US-listed companies to check that that their purchases of metals have not indirectly funded warring parties and the European Union is developing regulation on conflict minerals. The major Chinese chamber of commerce for mineral traders last week introduced due diligence guidance for Chinese companies operating overseas, and in August, Canada’s conflict minerals bill missed adoption by just 10 votes. The Congolese government must not waste this opportunity to establish and consolidate responsible mineral supply chains.

“The Congolese government must show that it is serious about getting its army out of the mineral trade. Only when soldiers found to be acting illegally are punished appropriately can efforts to create conflict-free supply chains be realised,” said Annie Dunnebacke of Global Witness. “Congo’s new mining law should clearly outlaw any involvement of members of the army in digging, taxing or transporting minerals”.

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Nathaniel Dyer, DRC team +44 (0)77 11 006 799 (English or French) or Sarah Morrison, Senior Communications Advisor +44 (0)207 492 5840

Notes to editors

1] The Democratic Republic of Congo’s 2002 Mining Code article 27 prohibits members of the Army, among others, from holding mining rights or trading minerals. Further, article 304 says that any unauthorised person who transports minerals should be punished by two months’ imprisonment and/or a fine of up to US$20,000. The mining code is here:

2] Findings referred to in this press release are based on Global Witness’ field investigations in North and South Kivu and Katanga in 2013 and 2014.

3] Due diligence checks to the OECD standard are a legal requirement for companies operating in DRC’s mineral’s sector at all levels of the supply chain following the February 2012 Arrêté ministériel N.0057.CAB.MIN/MINES/01/2012 portant mise en œuvre du mécanisme régional de certification de la Conférence Internationale sur la Région des Grands-Lacs « CIRGL » en République Démocratique du Congo, Article 8.. See the full text here:

4] The United States legislation on Conflict Minerals is section 1502 of DoddFrank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act passed in 2010. For more information on the European Union draft legislation on conflict minerals see: More information on the China Chamber of Commerce of Metals Minerals & Chemicals Importers & Exporters (CCCMC) due diligence guidance for Chinese companies operating overseas can be found here: Canada’s Conflict Minerals Bill, “respecting corporate practices relating to the extraction, processing, purchase, trade and use of conflict minerals from the Great Lakes Region of Africa” was voted on September 24th, with 127 votes for and 146 against. See the full text and proceedings on:

On the EU proposals see also Eurac, October 2014, European draft Regulation on responsible mineral sourcing, What lessons can be learned from the Democratic Republic of Congo?. Available here:  

5] For more information on artisanal mining in Congo, see: