Congolese civil society and mining associations say these mines should now be guarded by specially trained mining police to better guarantee the end of conflict minerals.
Walikale, Democratic Republic of Congo
• A version of this post appeared on the blog "Enough Said." The views expressed are the author's own.
The Congolese army captured two of the largest minerals mines from rebel groups in eastern Congo last week—the enormous Bisie tin mine and the Omate gold mine. If the objective is to enable conflict-free minerals from Congo to be sold in international markets, the Congolese government should ensure that the army hands these mines over to the mining police as soon as possible. The army and the United Nations peacekeeping force, MONUSCO,could then deploy around the perimeter of the mines to protect from armed incursions. Without these steps, the demilitarization of mines that occurred in 2011 could lose important ground.
The Congolese army vacated these two mines in early 2011, and the rebel groups Mayi-Mayi Sheka and the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR) have been controlling the trade from these locations in recent months. Following Congolese government decrees and international pressure not to purchase conflict minerals, Bisie mine, which accounts for nearly 70 percent of North Kivu's tin production, is currently only operating at between 10 to 25 percent of normal production. The rebel groups were controlling the minimal production, and are believed to have been selling to Chinese buyers at about one-third the normal price.