The Democratic Republic of the Congo (/ˈkɒŋɡoʊ/; French pronunciation: [kɔ̃ɡo]; French: République démocratique du Congo), also known as DR Congo, DRC, DROC, Congo-Kinshasa, or simply the Congo is a country located in Central Africa. From 1971 to 1997 it was named Zaire, and from 1908 to 1960 it was called the Belgian Congo. The DRC borders the Central African Republic, and South Sudan to the north; Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania to the east; Zambia and Angola to the south; the Republic of the Congo to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the southwest. It is the second largest country in Africa by area, the largest in Subsaharan Africa, and the eleventh largest in the world. With a population of over 80 million, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the most populated officially Francophone country, the fourth most populated nation in Africa and the eighteenth most populated country in the world.
The Congolese Civil Wars
The Congolese Civil Wars, which began in 1996, brought about the end of Mobutu Sese Seko‘s 32-year reign and devastated the country. The wars ultimately involved nine African nations, multiple groups of UN peacekeepers and twenty armed groups, and resulted in the deaths of 5.4 million people.
At independence in 1960, DRC was the second-most industrialized country in Africa after South Africa; it boasted a thriving mining sector and a relatively productive agriculture sector. The First and Second Congo Wars began in 1996. These conflicts have dramatically reduced national output and government revenue, increased external debt, and resulted in deaths of more than five million people from war and associated famine and disease. Malnutrition affects approximately two thirds of the country’s population.
During the Second Congo War, three million civilians died, largely due to malnutrition or disease. Nearly as many were internally displaced.
The DRC is rich in natural resources
The Democratic Republic of Congo is extremely rich in natural resources, but is politically unstable, has a lack of infrastructure, deep rooted corruption, and centuries of both commercial and colonial extraction and exploitation have limited holistic development. Besides the capital, Kinshasa, the other major cities, Lubumbashi and Mbuji-Mayi, are both mining communities.
The DR Congo produces significant quantities of diamonds, gold, cassiterite, cobalt (of which it has the world’s largest reserves, although the trade is largely controlled by Zimbabwe), oil, tin, zinc, gold and coffee. The country has large reserves of uranium: it was Congolese uranium used for the Manhattan Project that produced the world’s first atomic bombs dropped on Japan. The vast country also has more than half of sub-Saharan Africa’s timber stock
A Majority of Diamonds come from Kasai province in the west. The DRC is the second-largest diamond-producing nation in the world, and artisanal and small-scale miners account for most of its production. By far the largest mines in the Congo are located in southern Katanga province (formerly Shaba), and are highly mechanized, with a capacity of several millions of tons per year of copper and cobalt ore, and refining capability for metal ore.
The Congo is a major producer of copper. Taken together, the DRC and Zambian copper belts are the second largest global reserve of copper, about 1/3 the size of the Chilean reserve. The DRC copper belt includes some of the highest grade copper deposits in the world. In some reserves the grades are above 5%. The ore also has high grades of cobalt and may hold 34% of the world’s cobalt reserves. There are large deposits that have yet to be explored using modern technology, so the size of the reserves may be understated.
Gécamines (La Générale des Carrières et des Mines), is a state-owned mining company in the DRC. Its principal products are copper (which often accounted for 50% of export earnings), cobalt and zinc. Copper mines in which Gécamines has a major interest include Kambove, Kipushi and Kolwezi. Gécamines also owns a copper smelter at Lubumbashi and a hydrometallurgical plant at Shituru.
Copper Resources Corporation is a subsidiary of Meterox. As of November 2011 it held a 92.5% interest in the Hinoba-an Porphyry Copper project in the Philippines, and a 75% interest in Miniere de Musoshi et Kinsenda (MMK). MMK in turn owns the flooded Kinsenda and Musoshi copper mines in Katanga. MMK was formerly a subsidiary of Forrest Group. As of 30 November 2005 it became a subsidiary of Copper Resources Corporation. MMK also holds the Lubembe high-grade deposit.
China in the DRC
DR Congo’s largest export is raw minerals, with China accepting over 50% of DRC’s exports in 2012.
Coltan (short for columbite–tantalite and known industrially as tantalite) is a dull black metallic ore from which the elements niobium and tantalum are extracted. The niobium-dominant mineral in coltan is columbite (after niobium’s original American name, columbium), and the tantalum-dominant mineral is tantalite. Coltan is mined through a fairly primitive process similar to how gold was mined in California during the 1800s. Dozens of men work together digging large craters in streambeds, scraping away dirt from the surface in order to get to the coltan underground.
In particular, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is the world’s largest producer of “blood coltan,” coltan sourced in a conflict zone. Not all African coltan is from conflict zones, however; coltan exists in Egypt, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Namibia, Ghana, and Mozambique, as well as in the DRC. DR Congo possesses some 80% of the world’s coltan ore reserves
Coltan is used primarily for the production of tantalum capacitors, used in many electronic devices. Many sources mention coltan’s importance in the production of mobile phones, but this is an over-simplification, as tantalum capacitors are used in almost every kind of electronic device. The coltan industry is worth billions of dollars per year. Prices for coltan range between $50 and $200 per pound-
Uploaded on May 17, 2007 – In 2005, Global Witness’ DRC team delivers a devasting report entitled ‘Under-mining Peace’ documented the exploitation of Congo’s miners of cassiterite, an iron ore used in electronic circuit boards. Channel 4 News’ Jonathan Miller & filmmaker Elizabeth Jones were the first foreigners to visit these mines, whose ore has been at the heart of Congo’s many years of armed conflict.
Global Witness Mission
Many of the world’s worst environmental and human rights abuses are driven by the exploitation of natural resources and corruption in the global political and economic system. Global Witness is campaigning to end this. We carry out hard-hitting investigations, expose these abuses, and campaign for change. We are independent, not-for-profit, and work with partners around the world in our fight for justice.
Global Witness Vision
We want a better world — where corruption is challenged and accountability prevails, all can thrive within the planet’s boundaries, and governments act in the public interest.
The African Dollar potential in the DRC
Sparsely populated in relation to its area – 81,680,000 people are in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is home to a vast potential of natural resources and mineral wealth. Its untapped deposits of raw minerals are estimated to be worth in excess of US$24 trillion.
The DRC’s coltan has been identified as one of the leading causes of the conflict in the eastern part of the country, and attempts are being made to ensure that mobile phone manufacturers stop using coltan that is sourced there.
In April 2013, anti-corruption NGOs revealed that Congolese tax authorities had failed to account for $88 million from the mining sector, despite booming production and positive industrial performance. The missing funds date from 2010 and tax bodies should have paid them into the central bank. Later in 2013 the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative suspended the country’s candidacy for membership due to insufficient reporting, monitoring and independent audits.
The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) is a global standard to promote the open and accountable management of extractive resources. It seeks to address the key governance issues in the oil, gas and mining sectors.
EITI Standard is implemented in 51 countries around the world. Each of these countries is required publish an annual EITI Report to disclose information on: contracts and licenses, production, revenue collection, revenue allocation, and social and economic spending and goes through an EITI Validation process at least every three years. Validation serves to assess performance and promote dialogue and learning at the country level. It also safeguards the integrity of the EITI by holding all EITI implementing countries to the same global standard. The EITI Standard requires information along the extractive industry value chain from the point of extraction, to how the revenue makes its way through the government, to how it benefits the public. This includes how licenses and contracts are allocated and registered, who are the beneficial owners of those operations, what are the fiscal and legal arrangements, how much is produced, how much is paid, where are those revenues allocated, and what is the contribution to the economy, including employment.
The Chair of the EITI is Fredrik Reinfeldt, former Prime Minister of Sweden. The previous chairs have been the Rt Hon Clare Short (2011-2016), former UK Secretary of State for International Development and Dr Peter Eigen (2009-2011). The EITI International Secretariat is located in Oslo, Norway and is headed by former Swedish diplomat Jonas Moberg. It is also clear that the EITI process is one of the only functioning global mechanisms to inform and channel debate in resource-rich countries in a way that includes all stakeholders In July 2013 the country improved its accounting and transparency practices to the point where the EITI gave the country full membership.
Around 80 companies involved in oil, gas, and mining support the EITI. Supporting companies publicly endorse the EITI and can contribute to covering the cost of the international secretariat of the EITI. The EITI is furthermore endorsed by 95 financial institutions with total assets under management of more than US $19 trillion