The United Arab Emirates have signed a $1.9 billion deal with a state-owned mining company in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Congolese president said, AfricaNews reported.
President Félix Tshisekedi has announced that a government delegation from the UAE had concluded the deal in Kinshasa with la Société aurifère du Kivu et du Maniema (Sakima).
The partnership will see the development of at least four industrial mines in the troubled eastern regions of South Kivu and Maniema.
Sakima owns mining concessions in the region for tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold. The government did not say which minerals the deal concerns.
Primera Group contract
The agreement comes after the DRC signed a 25 year contract in December with UAE firm Primera Group over export rights for some artisanally mined ores – metals which are extracted by independent miners not employed by mining companies.
The contract awarded Primera Group a majority stake in two joint ventures, Primera Gold and Primera Metals, giving them preferential export rates for gold, coltan, tin, tantalum and tungsten.
The DRC touted the initiative as a means of fighting the trafficking of minerals to armed groups, many of which are in the country’s east.
Troubled eastern region
Eastern DRC has been plagued for decades by armed conflict, with up to 120 different militia groups active in the region, according to the United Nations.
These groups are sustained, at least in part, by smuggled minerals.
The UN said in a report published June that there are doubts as to the legality of artisanal mines supplying Primera Gold. The report said it was very possible that the supply chain could be polluted by ore from sites controlled by armed groups, due to faulty traceability mechanisms.
Primera Gold began its operations in January in South Kivu and in May, shipped a ton of certified gold, according to the Congolese Ministry of Finance.