A symbolic first shipment of “equitable” gold left the Democratic Republic of Congo on Friday under a partnership with the United Arab Emirates intended to halt smuggling.
The 28 kilograms (62 pounds) of yellow metal were displayed at a Kinshasa ceremony ahead of its exportation through Primera Gold DRC, a joint venture established under the partnership, according to general manager Joseph Kazibaziba.
Officially only 26 kilos of artisan gold was exported from the DRC over the whole of 2021, while an estimated 20 tonnes were dug up by illicit miners.
The partnership is aiming to export a tonne of “certified” gold per month, rising to 15 tonnes a year.Primera said it had identified 30,000 artisanal miners in the east of the country ready to supply gold in exchange for regular earnings, access to healthcare and education for their families.Eastern DRC is rich in natural resources, including gold, but President Felix Tshisekedi said the benefits do not reach ordinary people, with armed groups controlling smuggling to neighbouring countries.
He said the deal with the Abu Dhabi-based partner was “exactly the type of partnership I had sought with our neighbours. Unfortunately I was not listened to”.DRC accuses Rwanda of supporting M23 rebels in the east to keep exploiting the region’s mineral wealth. Rwanda denies the allegations.
A second joint venture called Primera Metals DRC has been set up under the deal with the Emirati consortium Primera Group Limited to operate in the so-called 3T sector, exporting tin, tungsten and tantalum.The Congolese presidency said the objective was “to stop smuggling and illegal mining, particularly in the east of the country”, where scores of armed groups have roamed for years.