Urgent Call for Action Against Illicit Mineral Exploitation in Rubaya, North Kivu

Luwowo Coltan mine near Rubaya, North Kivu

In a revealing statement issued on Saturday, February 24, the Civil Society Coordination of Masisi, North Kivu, has raised alarms over illegal mining activities in the Rubaya area, as reported by Radio Okapi of the United Nations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The press release highlights the unauthorized extraction and trading of minerals, particularly pointing to the covert transport of coltan, a valuable ore used in electronic devices.

According to the statement, Telesphore Mitondeke, a representative of the Masisi civil society, detailed the nocturnal evacuation of several tons of minerals from Rubaya to Mushaki. The minerals are then transported by vehicles associated with the March 23 Movement (M23), which allegedly utilize this route to smuggle the resources through Bunagana border post towards clandestine markets before their eventual transit to Rwanda. This route encompasses Kausa, Kilolirwe, Kitchanga, and notably ends in Bunagana, where illegal counters facilitate the trade.

The situation has escalated following the closure of the Rubaya mining site by the government, a decision made after the conviction of former national deputy Edouard Mwangachuchu last year. Despite this closure, illicit mining and trafficking of minerals continue unabated, raising concerns over the exploitation of Congolese resources.

Mitondeke’s statement is a call to action for the government to implement stringent measures to halt this illicit trafficking, which undermines the nation’s economy and the integrity of its natural resources. The civil society’s alert comes amidst reports of the M23’s strategic maneuvers not only to exploit but to potentially encircle and dominate the mining area using local communities, highlighting a new route traced by the rebels for plundering DRC’s natural wealth towards neighboring countries, including Rwanda and Uganda.

This development has prompted experts to advocate for the cessation of mining operations in Rubaya, indicating a critical need for intervention to protect the region’s resources and ensure the well-being of its communities. The call to action underscores the urgency of addressing this illicit activity, emphasizing the significance of safeguarding the DRC’s mineral wealth against unauthorized exploitation and trade.