Various stakeholders in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s mining sector have signed a code of conduct designed to reduce fraud and increase transparency, the UN sponsored news service IRIN reported. This coincides with the recent lifting of the mining ban in eastern DRC provinces.

“Shortly after President Kabila’s ban, we started taking measures aimed at ending the massive fraud that is rampant in eastern Congo’s mining trade. We have deployed agents to trace minerals from digging areas to export locations and to label and certify them, so we can allow the mining trade to resume,” Minister of Mines Martin Kabwelulu said at the end of a four-day seminar on the new code of conduct. The seminar brought together national and regional government officials, representatives of artisanal miners, mineral buyers and traders, as well as civil society groups, all of whom signed up to the code. Key measures include:

– All artisanal miners and mineral traders must obtain permits from provincial governments;
– Miners must sell only to authorised buyers. Such buyers must operate premises of solid construction;
– Selling within sites of exploitation is prohibited;
– Miners can work only in authorized areas;
– Minerals must be traded for domestic or foreign currency and must not be bartered;
– Traders must disclose their accounts to provincial mining officials and provide full contact details of their customers;
– A prohibition on the employment of children in mines; and
– Civil society groups will inform local populations about the new measures.

“The code represents everyone who is supposed to be in the mining sector,” Gregory Mthembu-Salter, a consultant to the UN, told IRIN. “The people left out are people who are in the mining sector and shouldn’t be. Obviously that’s the armed groups and the FARDC (DRC national army). The Group of Experts has identified criminal networks in the FARDC and their illegal involvement in mining as one of the major threats to security in the affected provinces.”

The involvement of the army in mining, particularly those integrated into the military from rebel groups, has been a source of concern for some time. In September 2010, Kabila said he would move several battalions from the Kivu provinces, where soldiers are involved in mining, to other parts of the country. Kabwelulu said additional measures had been put in place to prevent soldiers from mining. “The role of the army and other security services is to protect the country and pacify it in a post-war state. The army, police and security services have already been notified of the new regulations. Any soldier caught trading minerals is breaking the law and this means he should be punished.”