The Just Gold project aims to develop an independent, equitable and sustainable system that brings legal, conflict-free and traceable gold from artisanal mine sites in the Democratic Republic of Congo to international markets.
In the Great Lakes region of Africa, and Democratic Republic of Congo in particular, the artisanal mining sector remains largely informal and is prone to widespread corruption and violence. While great strides have been made to trace conflict-prone minerals, there continues to be no tracking or monitoring of gold flows. This makes artisanal gold an ideal target for financing armed groups, resulting in the exploitation of mining communities and a loss of revenue for the government when gold is smuggled out of the country.
Partnership Africa Canada (PAC) has developed the Just Gold project to test models of traceability and due diligence implementation, in an effort to formalize the artisanal gold mining sector in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Just Gold project applies the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas, and the regional certification standards of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR).
The Just Gold project creates incentives for artisanal gold miners to channel their product to legal exporters—and eventually responsible consumers—by providing technical assistance to miners in return for legal sales. Miners are taught better exploitation techniques and offered Just Gold project equipment, in return for which any gold produced must be tracked and sold through legal channels.
In the current model being tested, the Just Gold Model Trading House (Maison d'achat modèle) acts as the legal conduit for Congolese artisanally produced gold by purchasing it at competitive prices, packaging it, and selling gold to a partnered legal exporter (comptoir).
The project is designed to be financially sustainable, with the margin from gold sales paying for operating costs, traceability, and the ongoing maintenance of project equipment. A percentage is also invested into a locally managed community development fund, with a goal to promote local natural resource governance and increase benefits from resources to all members of the community.
The Just Gold project is at the advanced pilot stage, with two sites in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. In Ituri, at Some (Mambasa Territory)—the pilot is fully operational from mine site to exporter. 300 miners are registered in the project. In South Kivu, at Butuzi (Walungu Territory)— groundwork is being set with initial technical assistance assessments, alongside comprehensive community consultations in 2016.
Towards Responsible and Conflict Free Mineral Supply Chains
Seminar Package Documents
Gender, Security, and Natural Resource Governance
Image: A Burundian woman crushing
rocks to release particles of gold
which can then be captured through
mercury amalgamation or the use
of a sluice
Despite the opportunities that natural resource extraction can bring, these opportunities are accompanied by socio-economic and environmental impacts that can significantly affect local populations in the vicinity of both artisanal and industrial extractive sites. Unfortunately, women often disproportionately bear the brunt of these negative impacts. These can include the loss of access to land or potable drinking water, increased social conflict, high inflation rates, lack of meaningful employment opportunities, an increased vulnerability to sexual exploitation and more. These impacts can be especially challenging where women are already marginalized or living in conflict and post-conflict situations.
There is little recourse for women to mitigate or eliminate these negative impacts, and their economic opportunities are often limited. They are frequently left out of consultative and decision-making processes that affect them the most, and their participation and leadership opportunities in natural resource governance and peacebuilding processes are generally minimal.
Mainstreaming gender equality into natural resource governance and peacebuilding processes is a key priority for PAC. We believe that integrating a gender perspective in the mineral sector, both artisanal and industrial, is crucial for ensuring that sector positively contributes to development and helps to strengthen peacebuilding efforts.
PAC works with a network of academics, institutions and civil society organizations, to identify and mitigate the particular challenges and vulnerabilities that women face in the extractive sectors, as well as to amplify or to create opportunities to enhance women’s participation in resource extraction, governance and peacebuilding.
Uncovering women’s experiences in artisanal and small-scale mining in Central and East Africa
PAC, alongside Carleton University and the Development Research and Social Policy Analysis Centre, have launched a new project aiming to provide an in-depth understanding of women’s economic roles in artisanal and small-scale mining in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda. Women perform a variety of roles in artisanal mining, from stone crushing to trading, and in some mines, make up 50% or more of the mining population. The project will explore conditions that shape women’s access to economic resources and how these are affected by regulatory policies and reforms. Evidence generated from the research will feed into policy advocacy and development. For more information, click here.
Gendered Dimensions of Natural Resource Extraction
PAC recently partnered with Congolese partners and researchers to conduct field research aimed at generating a better understanding the particular roles that women play in the supply chain of informal, artisanally-mined gold in the DRC. Furthermore, the research was designed to identify ways in which the informal nature of the gold trade in DRC was amplifying women’s vulnerabilities, while also laying the groundwork exploring how the introduction of formalization and certification mechanisms could either present new opportunities or (further) contribute to their marginalization. You can read our report in either French or English.
Women’s Livelihoods in Artisanal Mining Sectors: Rethinking State-Building in Conflict-Affected Africa
Partnership Africa Canada is a research contributor and advisor to a 5-year SSHRC-funded project to research women’s livelihoods in the ASM sector in Kenya, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe. Fellow researchers include Blair Rutherford and Doris Buss of Carleton University’s Institute of African Studies, along with Eileen Alma (Coady Institute, St. Francis Xavier University) and Aisha Ibrahim (Institute for Gender Research and Documentation, Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone). More information will be available soon.
Economies of Sexual Violence
In February 2013, with the support of IDRC, SSHRC and the Canadian Embassy in Kinshasa, PAC, Carleton University and Observatoire de lutte contre la corruption et les malversations économiques (OLUCOME) organized a workshop entitled “Economies of Sexual Violence and Conflict” in Bujumbura, Burundi. The aim of the workshop was to enhance research collaboration and the flow of research between African researchers and activists. This event came out of an earlier workshop hosted at Carleton University in 2010. The Burundi workshop is the first step, we hope, towards a research network of African and Canadians working on this theme.
The workshop’s title “Economies of Sexual Violence and Conflict” is a clue to the second innovative aspect of this event. Women and men’s livelihood practices – their access to goods and income-generating activities – is enmeshed in patterns of gendered violence, but this relationship has not been studied in depth and is little understood. Resource extraction of minerals is one comparatively high-profile context where the inter-relationship between economies and conflict has attracted increased policy intervention. Displacement caused by conflict and its aftermath is another example. Interventions by international actors, through peacekeeping, aid, or even internationally-funded transitional justice, is a third type of ‘economy’ that may contribute to gendered insecurities for women and men in ‘post’ conflict societies.
Workshop participants articulated a desire to maintain connections and continue to share information, leading to the creation of this online research network. More information about the event can be found at the Woman and Conflict Economies website: http://womenandconflicteconomies.com/past-events/.
Regional Civil Society and Natural Resource Governance
Bringing an end to conflict minerals requires involving responsible local communities in monitoring the conditions under which minerals are traded and extracted. Monitoring mineral extraction effectively, however, is a skilled undertaking requiring experience and training. In addition, the local political environment must accept the legitimacy of community involvement in the provision of such oversight.
To facilitate these twin goals, PAC has supported the creation of a regional civil society platform, incorporating civil society organisations (NGOs) from DRC, Rwanda, Burundi, and Uganda – the four core mineral production members of the ICGLR. Through this platform, PAC has worked to provide training on important aspects of monitoring including mine site inspections. Platform members themselves, meanwhile, have shared experiences and lessons on how best to manage civil society involvement in the mineral sector.
This peer sharing approach has had some notable successes. Civil society involvement in mine site inspections in the DR Congo is accepted and non-controversial. In Rwanda, it’s unheard of. Through the peer learning efforts of the civil society platform, Rwanda officials have come to see the benefits of civil society involvement in mine site oversight, and have become open to the idea of accepting NGO participation in this process.
Improved collaboration between civil society groups within and between ICGLR countries
Creation of civil society platform (CSP)
Regional civil society platform (COSOC-GL) members include the following:
Burundi: OLUCOME; ABUCO; CEJP Burundi
Uganda: PWYP; FIEGO; GRA; NAPE
Rwanda: Transparency Rwanda; RISD Rwanda; UMUSEKE; MPEDH
DR Congo: OGP; RIO ECC; UIAD/ ITIE Nord Kivu; BEST, Max Impact; GATT-RN; REPRODHOC Sud Kivu; CENADEP
The objectives of the civil society coalition is, first and foremost, to hold members’ respective governments to the ICGLR commitments they have made (e.g. ICGLR Pact on Peace, Stability and Development; Protocol on Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources; implementation of the six tools to address the illegal exploitation of natural resources) and to support MS to implement the RCM as soon as possible. Members also commit to: share best practices; support one another’s work and efforts; promote and sensitize the wider public about the ICGLR Pact, the RCM and the benefits of certification; assist with data collection, including socio-economic data; monitor certification and governance-related efforts and progress in the region; and act as whistleblowers to these efforts and to the RCM in particular. With respect to the latter, the intent is for the whistleblowing mechanism, currently in development by the ICGLR, to feed into the investigations and research functions of the office of the Independent Mineral Chain Auditor, once it is operational.
The coalition was very active and had gained regional and international profile as result. One of its most recent activities has been the conduct of country-specific research on the human rights situation in and around mine sites. Members were engaged in OECD discussions and meetings pertaining to the implementation of the OECD Due Diligence Guidance on Responsible Supply Chains in Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas and related supplements. Others are following or directly participating in certification efforts as members of the ICGLR Regional Audit Committee or as members of mine site inspection missions. However, the coalition has been negatively affected and dispirited by the suspension of support from PAC. Planned activities have been suspended until funds to support civil society’s engagement in resource governance can be secured from elsewhere.
Creation of CSP offices
The regional civil society coalition is composed of four national civil society ‘platforms’ (vs. offices): Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and DRC (Kivus only for the time being). Members participating in the coalition’s annual meeting in December 2011 in Kampala determined that a governance committee be comprised of one member of all participating countries, and that no office was required for the time being. CENADEP’s office in Bukavu serves as the regional coalition’s ‘Secretariat’ and central administration. Were the budget and capacity of the civil society coalition to increase, these administrative and governance-related decisions may likely need be revisited.
Participation in RCM governance
As mentioned previously, at the international level, the regional coalition and its members promote the need for the implementation of the RCM. It encourages donors and other stakeholder to support the RCM initiative, to better understand local and regional needs, and to equally advocate for regional ownership and transparency in the implementation of the RCM. The participating women’s rights NGO in Eastern DRC, RIO ECC, leads in the coalition’s efforts to advocate for full participation of women in the RCM governance structure. In region, the coalition frequently interacts with the Executive Secretary of the ICGLR to press for greater participation by civil society. They are also insisting on participating in data collection and/or on verifying data to be contained in the ICGLR database, and to ensuring that auditors broaden their scope to include qualitative and quantitative socio-economic progress indicators. This has yet to be done but requires the RCM to be in a more advanced stage of implementation. In late 2011, the ICGLR sponsored civil society and industry elections in both the Kivus and in Rwanda to identify representatives to sit on the tri-partite Audit Committee. In addition to ongoing outreach and sensitization in-region and internationally related to the ICGLR RCM, coalition members participate in various ICGLR resource governance and certification tools: ICGLR certification audit committee, whistle-blowing, as well as mine site inspections in DRC as part of national chain of custody requirements.
Outreach and partnership building activities
Even prior to the foundation of the coalition, several of the civil society organizations that are now members participated in PAC-sponsored joint workshops and consultations to develop the RCM Audit Terms of Reference and the RCM Manual.
See previous reports to DFAIT for a list of coalition outreach activities carried out in 2012. In 2013, coalition activities included (detailed in the attached civil society 2013 narrative report):
- Hosting of a second COSOC-GL Steering Committee meeting
- Presentation of human rights reports and validations (restitution) of country-specific findings in each of the four coalition member states represented
- Organization of a workshop on the formalisation of the artisanal sector in the Great Lakes Region (March 4 and 5, 2013); a series of recommendations addressed to the four governments, the ICGLR and partners emerged (declaration attached).
- Provision of two training workshops for members of the Groupes thématiques « mines » (South Kivu) on i) monitoring and the violation of human rights in the mineral chain, and ii) on the ICGLR RCM and the OECD Due Diligence Guidance.
Credible monitoring by civil society that supports the certified supply chain
- Training of CSP members to monitor the mineral trade, gather data and conduct investigative research and audits
- Research and oversight activities
- Public education and outreach
- Community capacity building
As indicated above and in previous reports, the regional civil society coalition on natural resources has either led or participated, to varying degrees, in the above monitoring activities. In the first year, the coalition was primarily dedicated to identifying, outreach to, and recruitment of, key civil society partners/members across the four (initial) countries of the region. In year two, coalition members became more fully involved in training and outreach. Monitoring capacity and opportunities were primarily developed via the ICGLR’s whistleblowing initiative and participation in the ICGLR Audit Committee. Year three was expected to further advance research and monitoring, especially as the RCM became fully operational , which includes not only regular mine site inspections and audits, but a more robust Audit Committee and IMCA office as well as access to certification data online.
Conflict-free Artisanal Gold
The Great Lakes Region of Africa is abundant in natural resources, including four high-valued minerals: tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold. In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), these minerals represent a primary source of income for over one million artisanal and small-scale miners. This artisanal mining sector, largely informal, is prone to corruption and criminality and, for years, minerals have been used by armed groups in the DRC and neighbouring countries as a source of financing. Furthermore, control over these lucrative natural resources has protracted conflict.
Of the four conflict minerals, gold is by several measures the most significant, both in terms of conflict financing and in terms of the revenue lost by African governments as a result of contraband exports. However, because of a lack of market forces, gold has to date received the least constructive attention: there are no tracking systems in place for artisanal gold in the Great Lakes region, no chain of custody technologies being proposed for this gold production, no on-the-ground engagement by large overseas buyers of gold. Efforts to include the ASM gold sector into responsible sourcing mechanisms are crucial to preventing further marginalization of ASM miners and heightened risks of conflict financing and illegal smuggling.
To demonstrate the feasibility of creating artisanal gold chains with full traceability from mine site to refiner, PAC designed and implemented a pilot project in the province of Orientale in Eastern DRC. The first of its kind in the region, the project tested the tracking of artisanal gold and sought to create incentives for gold producers to sell their gold via legal sales channels.
The basic concept of the pilot was to provide ASM miners with more efficient technology that would increase the gold yielded from their current extraction methods, in exchange for them selling their gold through identified legal channels. The increase in gold yield was essential to counterbalancing the lower prices that miners receive when selling their gold via legal sales channels.
The pilot project was implemented in three phases. The first phase comprised of initial research to profile of the ASM gold sector in the area, as well as to conduct general sensitization with local stakeholders of the project. This included registration of miners, which provided baseline data on age, gender, income and years of experience, and was conducted in a tripartite manner with the participation of civil society, government and industry.
The second phase included the introduction of basic to semi-mechanized technology that would serve to increase the gold yielded by artisanal miners participating in the project. The new technology was complemented with technical assistance and guidance on its proper usage, as well as broader guidance on how to create greater efficiencies in the miners’ methods.
The third phase involved the piloting of the traceability system that was based on the monitoring & recording of production and sales of gold at each step in the sales chain over a 2 month period.
The pilot project was carried out over the course of one year. The key results of the pilot project included:
- Baseline data and initial sensitization of +11,000 miners;
- Increased awareness and buy-in from the relevant authorities in Orientale;
- Technical assistance that led to a 25-30% increase in gold yield;
- Increased yields (immediate return) identified as a potential incentive for legal & traced ASM gold production;
- Pilot project data suggests very strong loyalty by miners to traceability when costs of legal sales are offset by increased yields;
- Solid platform & experience to build on for expansion.
Several key lessons were also learned throughout the course of the project, including the need to coordinate more closely with authorities in the region, increase investment in capacity building and partnerships with civil society, and to identify greater and more immediate interventions in the sales chain at the point of the small and large traders (négociants), who are most price sensitive. Moreover, contestation over land claims, which is endemic in DRC, hampers the scaling up of such efforts. Addressing land claims and the larger drivers of smuggling, such as taxation, are macro issues that are deserving of urgent attention.
PAC is in the process of setting up a second pilot site in Orientale province, and expanding its work into new sites in three other provinces of Eastern DRC (South Kivu, Maniema and North Kivu).
From our Partners
Responsible Supply Chains for ASM Gold
ICGLR Regional Certification
Centre National d'Appui au Développement et à la Participation populaire (CENADEP), one of our partners in the DRC, has excellent background information on the ICGLR. Visit their site to find out more.
Regional Civil Society and Natural Resource Governance
Women, Security, and Resource Governance