Democratic Republic of Congo

DRC - A Major Mining Country in Africa

Minerals: copper, cobalt, gold, diamonds, zinc, iron and uranium

Independence: 30 June 1960

Area: 2,345,409 km

Mining fact: Mining sector makes 90% of export

Although the Democratic Republic of the Congo has vast natural resources, it is also severely lacking in infrastructure and political stability, and is deeply corrupt. The country has, and has had several names. It is known as Congo-Kinshasa, DR Congo, DROC, DRC and simply Congo. It had other names in the past, from 1908 until 1960 the country was named the Belgian Congo, and between 1971 and 1997 it was known as Zaire. The DRC is the second biggest African country by area and the biggest in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The Mining Industry of the DRC

Mining in the DRC plays a significant role in the global production of copper, diamonds, gold, tin, coltan, tantalum and cobalt. As in 2009 the DRC had untapped mineral deposits worth around US$24 trillion. The DRC has the largest coltan reserves in the world. .

Cobalt Mining in the DRC

The DRC is the largest producer of cobalt ore in the world. The biggest mines in the country are situated in the Katanga province in the south of the DRC, previously known as Shaba. These mines are highly mechanised and has the capacity to produce several millions of tonnes of cobalt and copper ore every year.

Diamond Mining in the DRC

Most of the diamonds in the DRC come from the Kasai province in the west of the country. Small scale and artisanal diamond miners are responsible for most of the diamond mining in the country. It is believed that as much as a third of the diamonds in the country are smuggled out, which makes it difficult to accurately gauge diamond output levels. It is however estimated that Over 30% of the global diamond reserves are located in the DRC.

Energy and Renewable Energy

The DRC not only has mineral wealth, but is also rich in natural resources, and has the potential to revolutionise renewable energy on the African continent. Both crude oil and coal are mined and used in the DRC for energy domestically, even though there are other more eco-friendly options available to be explored. Because of the Congo River and the Inga dams the DRC has the infrastructure required for hydro-electricity. The sunlight in the DRC creates fantastic potential for developing solar energy. As in 2016, there are already over 830 solar power systems in the country. Systems are located in Equateur, Katanga, Nord-Kivu, the two Kasai provinces and Bas-Congo. The total power output is 83kW.

According to a report by the United Nations, the strategic significance of the DRC gives it the capability to become an economic power in central Africa because of it’s potential in the renewable energy sector.

Political Instability

In 1996 the Congolese Civil Wars started and ended the 32-year reign of the military dictator Mobutu Sese Seko. The country was devastated. As in 2016 the DRC is still recovering and has a significantly low level of human development – out of 187 countries it ranks 176.

Mining Companies operating in the DRC

Anglo Gold Ashanti, Tiger resources limited, African diamonds, Glencore international PLC, African Diamonds