Armed actors in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s artisanal mining have been dealt a blow with the release of $3.7 million funding by the United States Agency for International Development to counter illegal mineral activities in the country.
The actors profit from the minerals through raiding of mines, illegal taxation or collaborating with smugglers.
The funding, awarded to US-based Pact, will be used in sustainable mine site validation projects in North and South Kivu provinces.
“Validation is the initial step in combating illegal activities in the mining sector including child labour, working with armed groups and violating human-rights,” said USAid’s DRC country director Paul Sabatine.
For a long time, armed groups have traded minerals for weapons and ammunition then killed people and engaged in child and forced labour as well as extensive human-rights abuses against civilians including sexual and gender-based violence.
Pact will ensure that no armed group is present and that the mines have the legal authority to operate. The process is the first step in ensuring minerals are sourced responsibly in a conflict-free environment, and that they contribute to peace and stability.
US ambassador to the DRC Mike Hammer said that America is seeking to increase its role in advancing economic prosperity by investing in the country’s mining sector.
“To increase the presence of US companies in the DRC which are committed to improving the local communities in which they work, we must ensure mining sites are operating legally and transparently,” he said.
Since 2015, USAid-funded validation processes in the DRC have led to reliable sources of conflict-free minerals. Out of 3,000 known artisanal mining sites, USAid has supported the validation of over 500 sites for conflict-free tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold (3TG).
Over 3,600 tonnes of conflict-free minerals have been exported from validated mines site raising more than $90 million for Congolese firms.