Kinshasa, 18 July, 2023 (GNP): The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has inked a historic $1.9 billion deal with Societe Aurifere du Kivu et du Maniema (Sakima), a state mining company in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), to develop at least four mines in the African country’s turbulent east, the Congolese presidency said.
As per the statement from President Felix Tshisekedi’s office, the agreement signed by a delegation from the UAE government in the capital city of Kinshasa entails the development of at least four industrial mines in the resource-rich yet volatile eastern provinces of South Kivu and Maniema.
Under the partnership, Sakima, which holds mining concessions for tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold in the region, will oversee the construction and operation of the mines. However, the statement provided no other information regarding the deal, including the kind of minerals that would be extracted.
The agreement follows the DRC’s previous 25-year contract signed in December with UAE firm Primera Group over export rights for artisanally mined ores. By awarding Primera Group majority stakes in joint ventures for gold and metals, the DRC aimed to regulate and formalize the artisanal mining sector, combating illegal mineral trading while providing better livelihood opportunities for independent miners.
The development of mining operations in eastern DR Congo has the potential to stimulate economic growth, create employment opportunities, and improve living conditions for local communities. However, militias have plagued the region for decades with numerous armed groups up to 120, engaging in the illicit trade of minerals, the sources said.
Despite the deployment of a regional peacekeeping force and a UN military contingent, the long-running conflict there has persisted. The Norwegian Refugee Council estimates that at least 5 million people have been internally displaced and an additional 1 million have migrated to other countries since the recent conflict broke out in May 2021.
President Tshisekedi’s commitment to promoting responsible and sustainable mining practices aligns with the DRC’s vision for economic development. The partnership with the UAE represents a significant milestone in the country’s efforts to attract foreign investment, enhance transparency in the mining sector, and create a conducive environment for economic progress.
As the UAE and Sakima embark on this venture, it is expected to have a transformative impact on the mining industry in eastern DR Congo. The collaboration aims to not only harness the region’s mineral wealth but also contribute to peacebuilding, social development, and long-term prosperity for the Congolese people.