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DRC reassures on mining controls

02 Mar 2018 16:50 GMT
DRC reassures on mining controls

London, 2 March (Argus) — Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) this week reassured international investors of its ability to regulate its mining industry and highlighted opportunities to develop its nickel and chrome reserves.

The government's review of the country's mining code is progressing, with new traceability and monitoring systems expected to come into operation in March 2018, Alexis Mikandji Penge, director general of the centre of expertise, evaluation and certification of precious and semi-precious minerals at the ministry of mines, told the Argus Metals Week 2018 conference in London. "This applies to small-scale mining and to anybody purchasing from these mines, and any combination of small scale and industrial mining," he said. The tax systems and mining royalties will change under the review. But the review "will not upset the mining sector" he added.

Mikandji Penge responded to recent media reports about child labour in the cobalt mining sector. "I have seen reports there is child labour and uncontrolled practice," he said. "Since last year there is no more child labour." He stressed the DRC's commitment to monitor small-scale mining. "Small scale mining is not ideal because of its impact on reserves and it leads to poverty and has a disregard for environmental standards. He said the review of the mining code has not been driven specifically by recent criticism of the cobalt sector. "Since 2012 we have been considering a review of our mining code."

Potential investors applying for permits to develop reserves will be treated on a first come first serve basis under the new mining code. Mikandji Penge also said his department has been instructed to discuss the potential development of downstream processing to add value beyond the export of concentrates. Processing had been hampered in the past by issues with electricity supply, he said. "Let me invite you to come and invest in the DRC," Mikandji Penge told the conference.