The Democratic Republic of Congo’s ambition to tackle factors contributing to the country’s armed groups’ ability to continue thriving is proving to be futile.
An investigation by non-governmental organization Global Witness has found that a Chinese- owned company is funding armed groups in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo in exchange to access to gold.
In it’s summary of the report, the organization said armed groups in the Shabunda territory received gifts of arms and cash amounting to up to $25 000 a month from Kun Hou Mining, to take advantage of the booming gold rush along the Ulindi river.
“Global Witness’ investigation reveals the extent of the problems in eastern Congo’s artisanal gold sector. Eastern Congo has seen an uptick in gold production in recent years, the revenues from which could have been used to address the region’s desperate poverty but have instead often funded armed groups and corrupt officials, “ said the organization in a statement.
According to the report provincial authorities are also scheming with armed groups in illegally taxing miners and altering official export documents so that gold looks as though it was coming from legally operating mines.
“Provincial authorities overseeing Shabunda’s boom have, by their actions over the past two years, directly undermined international and the national government’s efforts to reform eastern Congo’s artisanal gold trade,” said Sophia Pickles, Senior Campaigner at Global Witness.
The findings further confirm previous research which has found that “conflict minerals” are used to explain why armed groups in the country remain strong.
The research shows that almost half a million dollars worth of Kun Hou’s gold was exported to a Dubai company through official channels. The rest of the company’s estimated $17 million of gold production is likely to have been smuggled out of the country.
“States have a responsibility to ensure that companies do no harm, including checking supply chains for links to conflict and human rights abuses – Congo and the United Arab Emirates have dramatically failed in this respect,” she added.
The organization says the Congolese state lost out on tax revenues on up to $38 million of artisanal gold produced per year during the gold rush.