Congo to Lift Eastern Mining Ban on March 10, Minister Says

Democratic Republic of Congo will lift a six-month-old ban on mining in three eastern provinces rich in gold, tin ore and coltan on March 10, Mines Minister Martin Kabwelulu said.

The halt allowed the government to “put in place a mineral-tracing program that will conform with international standards,” he told reporters in Kinshasa, the capital, today. “We’re all called to improve our governance as well as the business climate in the mining sector,” he said.

President Joseph Kabila announced the ban on Sept. 9 to break up “mafia groups” that he said controlled the mineral trade in Maniema, North Kivu and South Kivu provinces. Congo also wants to break the links between illegal mining and armed groups that have fueled more than 15 years of conflict in the region.

Kabwelulu announced the end of the ban at a conference with provincial officials and representatives from the region’s mining industry. Stockpiles waiting for export because of the ban will need to be certified and tagged based on their origins, Kabwelulu said.

Congo is Africa’s largest producer of tin ore and has deposits of gold and tungsten, most of which comes from the provinces that were affected by the ban.