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Congo DRC
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The Democratic Republic of the Congo is rich in natural resources and is thought to be the wealthiest country on earth in regards to natural resources. Current patterns of resource extraction have, however, severely compounded the nation’s trouble.

DRC is estimated to have $24 trillion worth of untapped deposits of raw mineral ores, including the world’s largest reserves of cobalt and significant quantities of the world’s diamonds, gold and copper. The major ores found throughout the DRC are cobalt, diamonds, gold and copper.

Much of the resource extraction is done in small operations known as "Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining" (ASM), which are unregulated in the DRC. Recently, more money is being invested into the extraction and refining of some of the ores found in the country, primarily copper and cobalt, which may help regulate the extraction and reduce environmental impacts. Because artisanal mining operations require little capital they are unregulated and occur primarily within protected areas, around endangered or threatened species.

The outbreak of civil conflict in the DRC in 1996 severely disrupted the economy, including metals mining, leaving diamond exports as the major source of revenue. Despite the collapse of much of the formal mining infrastructure, the DROC remained an important source of industrial diamond and cobalt. Mining was the country's leading industry in 2002, and diamonds, copper, and cobalt ranked first, second, and fourth, respectively, among export commodities.

Most mining activities are concentrated in the southern and eastern parts of the country, where the famous Copperbelt extends in to the DRC from Zambia near Lubumbashi.

Gold

It is estimated that about 128,000 oz of gold was recovered from quartz veins grading 10 g/t until civil disturbance resulted in operations being closed and expatriates leaving the country. Since then minimum exploration has taken place. Most of the DRC’s gold production comes from the north eastern and eastern parts of the country, which are currently controlled by rebel factions as a result the production of gold is outside the central government's control. The state owned Okimo gold mine has a reported production capacity of six tons of gold a year.

Banro Resource Corporation controls through its 93% owned subsidiary, SAKIMA SARL, 10 mining permits and 47 mining concessions encompassing an area of 10,271 km2 in the eastern parts of the DRC. Activities have been suspended due to conflict in the east. Following a settlement with the DRC Government, Banro now has a 100% title to the Twangiza, Kamituga, Lugushwa and Namoya gold deposits, whilst the Government retains all of the tin rights.

Copper & Cobalt

The Katanga Province hosts the Central African Copperbelt, which extends from Angola through the DRC into Zambia. The Copperbelt is one of the world’s greatest metallogenic provinces containing 34% of the world’s cobalt reserves and over 10% of the world’s copper reserves.

In 2007, Lundin Mining acquired the Canadian based company Tenke Mining, which included a 24.75% holding in the Tenke Fungurume project, one of the largest and highest grade, undeveloped copper-cobalt mineral concessions in the world. Partners in the project are Freeport McMoRan Gold and Copper Company which holds 57.75% and is also the operator of the project and the Congolese state mining company, Gécamines, which holds the balance of 17.5%.

Diamond

Although the DRC is Africa's largest diamond producer, production details remain sketchy. Most of the DRC's production is produced by the informal sector. Similar to Angola, rebel forces now hold traditional diamond production areas, primarily in the Eastern Kasai province.

The only commercial diamond producer in DRC is Miniere de Bakwange (MIBA), which is a joint venture between Belgian company Sibeka and the DRC government, which owns 80%.

As it stands, diamond mining in the country has taken place on a small scale and a considerably small area has been explored using modern technology. There has been renewed interest by the international mining industry in the DRC as a result of the 2003 implementation of the new DRC Mining Code, which was drafted in conjunction with the World Bank.

It is estimated that roughly a third of the DRC's production is smuggled out of the country every year. Canadian Wye Resources have some alluvial diamond concessions in the Kasai Occidental Province. The country currently has 700 000 artisanal diamond miners.

Mineral Law & Legislation

The mining industry is regulated through the national legislation and regulations issued by the DRC parliament and the DRC executive branch and mainly by the new Mining Code adopted in 2002 and its ancillary Mining Regulation, adopted in 2003. Mining agreements were suppressed by the new Mining Code.

The core legislation includes environmental norms applicable to mining activities. It also includes quarry rights and activities not dealt with.

According to the Constitution and the Mining Code, the state is the owner of all mineral resources in the soil or subsoil. However, the state may grant to private parties (local or foreign) the rights to explore and exploit mineral resources by awarding mining titles. These titles are based on first come, first served principle.

According to the Land Law, the state has the exclusive, inalienable and imprescriptibly property of the land.

It has been reported that the Mines Ministry in the Democratic Republic of Congo says it wants the state to hold a 35% stake in all future mining joint ventures. A new proposed contract, written in May 2010and awaiting government approval, will serve as a basis for negotiation.

Major Players in the Industry

  • Kipushi Mine
  • Abner Congo Diamond Mercati ADF (ACD)
  • First Quantum Minerals Ltd
  • Societe de Developpement Industriel et minier du Congo (SODIMICO)
  • Miniere de Bakwange (MIBA)
  • Okimo
  • SAKIMA s.a.r.l

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