In the DRC (Democratic Republic of the Congo) nearly all the gold is mined by artisinal miners whose mining practices are dangerous and uncontrolled.
According to the International Peace Information Service, about $28 billion worth of gold lies underground in eastern Congo, but 98% of it leaves the country illegally. Gold mining in the region is run by armed groups who patrol the mines.
Last week however the efforts of a new group aiming to move legally mined, conflict-free gold out of the DRC came to fruition.
According to the CBC, Joanne Lebert, executive director of Partnership Africa Canada (PAC), brought 238 grams of gold purchased from mines near the remote town of Mambasa. The PAC says the gold was one of the first legal gold purchases from the Congo. It will be sent to a jewellery store in Toronto that makes fair-trade gold jewellery.
In May the Ottawa-based NGO announced it had successfully implemented a system to trace legal and conflict-free artisanal gold in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Just Gold project creates incentives for artisanal gold miners to channel their product to legal exporters—and eventually responsible consumers—by offering fair and transparent pricing and by providing capacity-building, such as technical assistance to miners in return for legal sales. Miners are taught better exploitation techniques and offered Just Gold project equipment, in return for which any gold produced must be tracked and sold through legal channels.
“Proving that artisanal gold in eastern Congo can be conflict-free, legal and traceable is a major step in responsible sourcing efforts in the Great Lakes region. The government of Democratic Republic of Congo is taking major strides in complying with regional standards and demonstrating how the implementation the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains can contribute to progressive improvements in the sector, supporting artisanal gold men and women miners to enter international markets,” Lebert said in a press release.
Partnership Africa Canada signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Minister of Mines Martin Kabwelulu on September 2016, outlining support for the organization’s activities to strengthen natural resource governance. Specifically, the Ministry of Mines recognized the Just Gold project as a system of traceability and encouraged its implementation.