The Democratic Republic of Congo government has withdrawn its troops from the Bisie mine, which has until recently been the largest tin mining operation in the country, the Wall Street Journal reported today. Military units have been withdrawing from the mine over the past six weeks to allow the North Kivu provincial mining department to assume control of the mine, Justin Nyembo, technical director of state-run mine licensing body Cadastre Minier.
“The government’s intention is to end artisanal mining in the east,” and the state is encouraging larger mining corporations to open up mines in the provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu and Maniema, he said. The military has controlled the Bisie mine for the past five years and has been accused of imposing illegal taxes on miners and dealing in illegal mineral trade. Environmental and human-rights organization Global Witness supported the move and said that the shift in the control of the mine has “created opportunities to begin breaking the links between the mineral trade and the conflict.”