Congo to lift mining ban in mid October: minister

Fri Oct 1, 2010 1:36pm GMT

By James Macharia

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Democratic Republic of Congo plans to lift a temporary ban on mining in its troubled eastern provinces by the middle of October after attempting to improve regulation of the sector, its mines minister said on Friday.

Speaking on the sidelines of a conference held in Nairobi to design plans to curb illegal mining in the region, Martin Kabwelulu told Reuters he intended to lift the ban in about two weeks from now.

On September 11, the government banned mining in North Kivu, South Kivu and Maniema, areas rich in gold, tin ore cassiterite, and hi-tech mineral coltan in a bid to stop armed groups, government troops and smugglers from profiting from mining.

No major mining companies operate in the three provinces.

"Two weeks from now, we will lift the ban, the date is not yet set but it should be between 15-20 October," Kabwelulu said.

"We have succeeded in implementing the ban, we have stopped some of the illegal mining and put in place measures so that when we re-start we want to be sure that the production is coming from one known source and going to the next stage. We had to improve our control because there was total chaos," he said.

He said a commission to look into mining was being set up, after which the ban would be lifted.

Some 5 million people have been killed in the central African state since the start of a 1998-2003 war, and the government and U.N. forces are struggling to uproot myriad rebel groups still active in the minerals-rich east.   Continued...

<p>A mine worker looks on underground in Johannesburg, February 3, 2009. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko</p>
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