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Congo mining ban's success is limited

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(Read caption) Gold miners form a human chain while digging an open pit near the village of Kobu, 100 km (62 miles) from Bunia in northeastern Congo. Civil conflict in Congo has been driven for more than a decade by the violent struggle for control over the country's vast natural resources, including gold, diamonds and timber, most of which is exploited using hard manual labour.

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Early last month Congo’s President Joseph Kabila issued a full export ban on all minerals mined in the eastern provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu, and Maniema. In his latest field dispatch from the region, Enough’s Goma-based field researcher Fidel Bafilemba discusses the impact of the ban amid speculation that it will soon be lifted.

On the effectiveness of the ban, Fidel writes:

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The stated objectives of Kabila’s ban – starving rebel groups of resources and demilitarizing the mining sector – have not been met, and in the absence of more effective measures to achieve these objectives, security and the economy in eastern Congo will worsen before they improve.

But the rebel groups in the region certainly aren’t the only threat to security, as Fidel explains:

Recommended: Congo mining ban hurt more than it helped

Congolese army involvement in the mineral mining and trafficking and the misappropriation of troops’ pay and operational funds continue to put civilians at risk, allow the proliferation of local and foreign armed groups, and impede investment and reconstruction. In the meantime, the continuing activities of foreign rebel groups provide a pretext for external intervention by Congo’s neighbors, which inevitably results in violence against civilians and the pillaging of Congo’s resources.

To improve conditions in the region, the Congolese government needs to work with international actors to develop a certification system with provisions for traceability and independent audits and to undertake meaningful security sector reform.

In two appendices to the dispatch, Fidel provides a list of the mines in the region with notes about what types of minerals are found in each, which armed groups are in control, and how the mines link to smuggling routes. He also includes a list of estimated taxes levied on the trade in mineral-rich Walikale.

Read the full field dispatch here.

Enough Project staff members are frequent guest bloggers for Africa Monitor and blog at Enough Said.