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Congo mining ban extended to three troubled provinces

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Goma: DR Congo President Joseph Kabila now wants the indefinite suspension on mining his country extended to three provinces where dozens of militia groups including Rwanda FDLR rebels have committed gruesome atrocities, officials said.

Following meetings on Friday with provincial and central government officials in Goma, President Kabila decided to halt all mining activities in Nord Kivu, Sud Kivu and Maniema, according to officials from North Kivu.

Initially, the ban had been targeted at Warikare – a large area in Nord Kivu where more than 500 women, men and babies were gang raped by FDLR and Mai Mai militias early last month. 

A North Kivu province mining minister D'Assise Masika says central government communiqué announcing the indefinite suspension on mining in the three provinces will be published soon.

Several armed groups operate in North Kivu’s Walikale territory, which is home to the Bisie cassiterite mine, including the Rwandan FDLR rebels. Available statistics show that Bisie accounts for about 80 percent of North Kivu’s cassiterite, or tin-ore, production.

The US government has recently slammed tough regulations on minerals from the great lakes region branding them as ‘conflict minerals’.

Congo is under pressure from activist groups and the new U.S. law to prevent its vast natural resources from supporting armed groups. The FDLR and Mai Mai Cheka are among the groups operating along mineral trade routes in Walikale and preying on the local population.

The UN reports that more than 500 women, men and babies were gang raped last month by the two groups over a four-day period – forcing the displacement of thousands more from some 15 villages in the Walikare area.

The Kinshasa government now says it want to return some sanity in the area. Both the Congolese army and UN peacekeepers have increased their presence in the region – with a new Congolese military operation against the rebel groups may begin soon, according to Radio Okapi.

President Kabila told his officials in Goma that he is determined to uproot what was described as "a kind of mafia involved in minerals exploitation."


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