“The Blue Mine” as a new status for qualifying mine sites in DRC. The result of successful advocacy by the Madini Project

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On November 12th 2021, the National Minister of Mines of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Madam Antoinette N’Samba Kalambayi, signed the ministerial decree instituting a new status for the qualification /validation for artisanal mining sites: the Blue Status. Mine site qualification and validation (in line with the ICGLR’s Regional Certification Mechanism ) is a mandatory process in the DRC to promote sustainable and responsible mineral supply chains.

The Blue status allows a registered mine site to exploit and export minerals while officially waiting for its qualification / validation status. The exporter will be responsible for writing and publishing a risk assessment of the mining site associated to the OECD Annex II Risks (in full: the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas Annex II Risks). In the past, only mine sites validated “green” or qualified “yellow” by joint validation teams (i.e. teams composed of international partners and local, provincial and national officials of the Ministry of Mines) were allowed to extract and export minerals. This system, however, has shown to be (too) slow, expensive and inadequate as qualified mines require revisiting to maintain their qualification (every year for a green mine, every 6 months for a yellow site), while unqualified mine sites often face long waiting periods before being scheduled for visits by the validation teams. This reality has left thousands of artisanal mines in the DRC de facto illegal, despite their aspiration for formalisation. The blue mine status is an answer to these challenges. Furthermore, it puts the private sector back at the centre of the due diligence of its supply chain.

To learn more about “blue mines”, and why this is recommended as a way to create an enabling environment for the production, trade and export of OECD-conformant minerals from eastern DRC, you can explore the new advocacy paper developed by the Madini Project.

The signature of the decree enforcing the Blue Mine Status was made possible thanks to the roundtable organized in Bukavu by the South Kivu Governorate, the CPS (Provincial Committee for the Follow-up of mining activities) and the Madini project between 12 and 16 October 2021. This event gathered around 200 people representing a diverse group of actors from the mining sector, including the private sector, cooperatives, traders, exporters, refineries, customary chiefs and mining authorities, from every level (local, territorial, provincial, national and regional). It created an opportunity for an open dialogue on several crucial topics for the sector such as the current fiscal regime, gold traceability, the integration of the revised ICGLR Regional Certification Mechanism in the Congolese law, and the sustainable funding of the CPS, CLS (Local Committee for the Follow-up of mining activities) and sub-CLS. Also the establishment of a Blue Status for artisanal mining sites was debated and agreed during this roundtable.

To learn more about the bigger scope of the Madini project and its partners, you can visit the project’s webpage.