Editor's Note: This post was written by Enough Project staff Annie Callaway and Sasha Lezhnev.
The number of officially certified conflict-free mines in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has increased by 31% since June 2015, according to recent data from the German Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR) and Congo's Mining Ministry. Multi-stakeholder teams made up of business persons, government officials, and civil society members have validated that 204 mines in eastern Congo are now free of armed groups, the military, and the worst forms of child labor.
Eighteen "validation missions" were completed in order to assess mine status, resulting in 204 out of 232 mining operations visited (89 percent) being declared "green," or conflict-free. A "green" classification means that the mines were found to be free of the presence of armed groups including the Congolese army, and that they were not utilizing the worst forms of child labor or employing pregnant women.
Up from 141 mines in June 2015, this increase in validated mines indicates promising progress in the push to create a conflict-free minerals trade in Congo.
While this represents progress, additional improvements must be made in order to support an effective, accountable process. First, there are still many more mines, especially gold, that require a visit from the validation missions. Second, mines must be re-visited every six months in order to be current and adhere to Congolese law.
Third, mine inspection reports should be made public so that companies, investors, and the general public can be more informed about the conditions at mines and what needs to be improved. Fourth, as the mine inspections transfer away from the current multi-stakeholder system towards a national inspection system, there need to be measures put in place for independent monitors to remain a part of the process to ensure full transparency.
Finally, the Independent Mineral Chain Auditor of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) needs significantly more donor support in order to investigate any incidents of illegal smuggling.
Click here to learn more about which mines are conflict-free.
Copyright: Equipe Conjointe de Qualification et Validation (2016) and BGR.