The Democratic Republic of the Congo has long been known for its wealth of natural resources. Wars have been fought over them, and to this day they are the reason for neighbors meddling in DRC affairs, and militias and criminal gangs looking for ways to get hold of them for financial benefit.
In the colonial era, Belgium controlled the trade in rubber, copper and later gold and diamonds. These are still important exports of the DRC, but now the list of precious metals and other minerals exported to world markets is considerably longer.
Among leading export is cobalt, with the DRC providing 55 percent of the world consumption. Copper continues to be a major export too, and generates some 30 percent of the country’s export revenue.
Other exports include niobium, tantalum, petroleum, industrial and gem diamonds, gold, silver, zinc, manganese, tin, uranium, coal and timber. The uranium used for the first atomic bomb came from the DRC.
Today, mining is still the major source of national wealth and has been at the center of the DRC’s robust gross domestic product (GDP) growth in recent years. This growth was made possible by a relatively stable situation in the country after the civil war largely came to an end with a peace agreement that took hold in 2003.
Also important to the industry was the adoption by DRC Parliament in 2002 of a Mining Code that regulates the industry. This was developed with assistance from the World Bank, and took much of the risk out of making investments in the mining sector.
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