The Complexity of Resource Governance in a Context of State Fragility

An Analysis of the Mining Sector in the Kivu Hinterlands

Background context

The report ‘Mining activity and mineral trade in the Kivu hinterland’ was commissioned by the Directorate General for Development (DG DEV) of the European Commission and aims to fill an
information gap by identifying the principal mining sites and analysing the trade networks of the ‘eastern hinterland’ of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), located in Maniema, North Katanga and Orientale Province, and the transport networks from these territories to the regional hubs of Bukavu, Goma, Butembo and Bunia.

Following constant reports of insecurity and human rights violations related to mining activity in the Kivu provinces and Ituri over the past years, the mining sector in these areas has been the subject of several publications. In these texts, the conflict-ridden Kivu provinces are generally depicted as a region beyond the control of the state where shadow economies thrive (an analysis with which Congolese President Joseph Kabila seemed to agree when he suspended all mining activities in North Kivu, South Kivu and Maniema on 11th September 2010).

However, whether these shadow economies extend into other important mining areas bordering the Kivus and Ituri is unclear since little documentation exists on production circuits in the
hinterland west of the Kivus. It was therefore felt that investigating the specific problems and opportunities of the mining sector in these less-known areas would be worthwhile.

The report is built around three chapters: the first examines mining activity in Northern Katanga; the second looks at Maniema territory on the east bank of the Congo River; and the third surveys the mining sector in Bafwasende and Mambasa territories in Orientale Province.

Each chapter follows the same structure. In a first section, the mineral resources of the area in question are discussed. In a second, the most important mines are presented. The third section deals with the mining sector: the traders, transport, mining companies, etc. The fourth section examines human rights violations, and the involvement of armed groups and the Congolese national army in mining areas.

As an integral part of this study, three detailed maps are published online at:

Besides the locations of mining sites discussed in this report, these maps show information on ownership, militia or army involvement, numbers of artisanal miners, mineral prices and several other important variables. Guidelines on their use are available online at the same webpage.

Besides an array of other sources, each of the three main chapters builds on these maps.

Key findings

  • The hinterland region is by no means inferior to the Kivus in terms of mineral production.Maniema accounts for a considerable share of the cassiterite arriving in Bukavu and Goma,the main trade centres; Northern Katanga is the most important supplier of coltan to Bukavu and possibly the most important coltan mining area in the whole of eastern DRC; and the Bafwasende and Mambasa territories produce a considerable percentage of Congolese gold.
  • As a consequence of the hinterland’s supply role to the Kivus, the main beneficiaries of the trade in hinterland minerals are traders based in the Kivu provinces. This is especially true for Maniema, where a degraded transport infrastructure requires most of its mineral production to be flown directly from airstrips dispersed all over the province, to Goma and Bukavu.Traders from Butembo (and Bunia) are among the main beneficiaries of the gold trade from Bafwasende and Mambasa. However, in several areas of Mambasa, semi-industrial gold mining operators, and their political and administrative backers, also seem to be making substantial profits. The situation in Northern Katanga is different. There, a single comptoir is handling sales of locally mined coltan and to a lesser extent, cassiterite. The recent arrival of this comptoir, with the support of the provincial government in Lubumbashi, has sidelined the traditional traders originating from the Kivus.
  • Although there is no complex conflict situation as in the Kivus, armed groups are nevertheless present in the hinterland territories. Many of these armed groups, including the Congolese army, generate income from mining and informal trade in minerals.The situation is probably the most serious in Bafwasende, where the Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo (FARDC) are taking advantage of the protracted war with Mayi-Mayi militias to engage in the mineral trade. In both Bafwasende and Mambasa,there have been reports of serious human rights violations by the FARDC.Though the security situation is better in Maniema, some mining areas suffer regular incursions from armed groups, including the Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda (FDLR), as well as extortion by elements of the army and civilian authorities. In the far north of Katanga, the FDLR has carried out a number of raids on small mining sites, while the FARDC generates income at several of the larger ones.
  • The difficulties faced by artisanal miners in the hinterland are similar to those faced in the Kivus. They receive little support from the state and often work on dangerous sites in which the day-to-day necessities must be flown in, and sometimes traded for scarce grams of gold while the economic operators invest little in the social needs of their labour force. Moreover, the artisanal miners are rarely organised, which weakens their power to bargain when it comes to mineral pricing.

Policy recommendations

The situation does not lend itself to quick and easy recommendations. Nevertheless, based on our
research and analysis, we offer the following lines of action for consideration.

  • The security problem in the hinterland is not as complex as that of the Kivus. Therefore, the Congolese government with support from its international partners should consider developing the mining sector in the hinterland.
  • The relatively calm security situation in most of the hinterland offers an opportunity for international due diligence efforts as most of the mining sites are outside conflict zones.Thorough DDR and SSR processes are absolutely essential to improve security in the mining regions of the hinterland. As part of this, the Congolese army should aim to withdraw units from mining areas that are not under threat by armed groups. Where security forces are deployed, there should be safeguards in place to protect civilians. The strengthening of military justice should be prioritised during SSR.
  • The rehabilitation of transport infrastructure should be one of the main priorities for donor and state investment in all three areas of the hinterland. The Congolese government should develop a plan for opening up the hinterland. This plan would have three cornerstones: infrastructure, transparent administration and security.
  • Incentives could be introduced into the current trading system to encourage the installation of new comptoirs in the hinterland. In exchange for reaching certain benchmarks (in terms of transparency and professionalisation, etc.), they could benefit from material and/or technical support.
  • Giving more responsibility to the provinces, including a greater stake in the taxation of the mineral trade, would motivate them to better manage the trade and clamp down on abuses. Increasing the responsibility of the provinces should imply the inclusion of all provincial stakeholders through the creation of stakeholder fora where the provincial administration meets with traders and civil society.
  • Coordination between the different provinces is required. For example, more informationsharing and data comparison is needed between the state services working on mining issues in the different provinces and regions. The possibility of creating formal structures for coordination (for example between the Katanga and South Kivu provincial governments on coltan or between Maniema and North Kivu on cassiterite) should be explored.
  • The formation of artisanal and trader representation groups (whether cooperatives, associations,or others) would be an important contribution to the evolution of better governance of the sector.
Steven Spittaels
November 2010
International Alert
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