In a workshop in South Kivu, Democratic Republic of the Congo, gold ingots are manufactured, while in an adjoining office their price is transparently negotiated. This situation is unusual in a region known for conflicts over “blood minerals.”
In January, the Congolese government and the United Arab Emirates established “Primera Gold,” a joint venture to regularize artisanal gold mining in South Kivu.
Historically, this gold has fueled trafficking and smuggling to neighboring countries, especially Rwanda, with which there are tensions. Most of the gold is trafficked clandestinely, with only a few kilos officially declared.
Despite this, in less than five months, Primera Gold has exported one ton of gold, according to the Congolese finance minister. The goal is to export at least one ton per month to a refinery in Abu Dhabi.
In a small building nearby, the smelting of the gold takes place. After cooling, the ingots are weighed and are worth around $120,000.
Although Primera Gold claims to source from locations free of armed groups and to employ registered miners organized in cooperatives, corruption and fraud make it difficult to implement these measures.
The inhabitants of Luhihi, a town where gold was found three years ago, demand tangible benefits in exchange for its extraction. Although Primera Gold is looking to implement traceability measures, they acknowledge that there is still much work to be done, such as providing health insurance to miners and their families.
The question remains as to how much is allocated to community development, despite the fact that the Congolese government owns a stake in Primera Gold.
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