DRC, UAE partner to halt gold smuggling

The Democratic Republic of Congo and the United Arab Emirates have announced a partnership that aims to halt gold smuggling.

The partnership was symbolised with a shipment of first “equitable” gold that left DRC. 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. Nonetheless, some 98% of the country’s gold production still finds its way out of the country thanks to the same actors.

Gold smuggling

Gold smuggling networks in the eastern DRC “are comprised of the same individuals and entities named year after year in reports from the UN Group of Experts and other organizations,” the report said. “While they may shift their operations to different jurisdictions and change their routes, known smugglers appear to operate with impunity and without fear of consequences.”

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”.




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