The assessment of Congo’s mines was executed by groups composed from members of the United Nations, business men and the Congolese authorities. USAID and the German Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources financed the operation.
The certification of several hundred mines may not seem like much, given there are about a thousand mines in total, but according to Lezhnev, the number of mines is less important than the volumes of minerals that is verified. “Some mines employ only 5 to 10 mineworkers, whereas others employ many thousand.” The so-called “validation missions” are aimed at high-volume areas such as Rubaya in North Kivu, a province in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo that has served as the stage for some of the most bitter fights between rebel groups, militias and government troops.
The teams review the mines on a yearly basis, and follow a standard model that evaluates the working conditions, the conflict situation and the development of the community. For example, neither armed forces nor the Congolese army are allowed to be present in the mines and neither children nor pregnant women should be employed. If a mine passes the review, it receives a green label. This information is subsequently published on the ICGLR website.
The certification process is a good start, but it certainly doesn’t offer a final solution. According to Lezhnev, making the trade in minerals and raw materials conflict free completely requires more support from the Congolese authorities, the US and the European Union.