A forthcoming report by the UK-based NGO Global Witness claims that army units and rebel groups still control gold and tin mining activities in the Kivu provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo. It a statement released on Wednesday it argues that international support for the peace programme in the area must “address the economic dimensions of the conflict”.

Global Witness highlights the roles of two main armed groups in controlling mines and selling minerals: the predominantly Rwandan Hutu FDLR rebel group in South Kivu and some units of the Congo army (FARDC) itself. “Contrary to the assertions of the military authorities, FARDC involvement in mining is very widespread,” said its director Patrick Alley. “Soldiers are imposing themselves on the local population, taking over the mines, and making large profits.”

The NGO underlined the responsibility of buyers and exporters to break this illicit trade. “The trading companies – known as comptoirs – who buy these minerals cannot continue to claim ignorance,” said Alley. “Everyone knows which armed groups control which territories and which mines. By buying from these criminal groups, the comptoirs are effectively supporting them.”