PAC Outlines Challenges Facing DRC Diamond Sector

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RAPAPORT… A new NGO report highlighted the challenges facing the diamond mining sector in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC,) particularly in the artisanal sector where workers are largely exploited and unregulated the group found.

The DRC 2007 Annual Review, published by Partnership Africa Canada (PAC) and CENADEP, estimated that approximately 700,000 people are digging for diamonds in the DRC working under “difficult circumstances and earning very little.”

The researchers, who spent two months traveling through the country’s diamond mining areas, said they received mixed reports from interviews on what artisanal miners make for their work, averaging at around $30 to $50 per week.

The NGOs proposed introducing diamond bourses to the main trading centers in the DRC, which “could bring international prices closer to the diggers, reducing the role of the middleman, and creating greater transparency in the buying and selling process.”

The report called the country’s newfound democracy and political stability “fragile” and claimed that while diamonds (and other minerals) financed much of the conflict that took an estimated 4 million lives, they “nevertheless remain a central part of the country’s economy, and will play an important role in its future.”

The DRC “officially” exported 30.2 million carats of diamonds valued at $679 million in 2006, with artisanal and small scale mining accounting for about 90 percent of the total.

Reports of smuggling prevail however, and the NGOs said that most of production from the Orientale and Equateur provinces was being smuggled via Uganda and the Central African Republic, thus bypassing Kinshasa and the Kimberley process, and the 3.75 percent tax payable to the government.

The report outlined some of the challenges such as  weak application of existing mining laws, widespread corruption, human rights abuses, and smuggling, but PAC noted that the country is “in a more democratic space with greater input into policy development than at almost anytime in the country’s history.”

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