Hitting the gold mine: Ottawa NGO imports first legal gold from the Congo – by Elise von Scheel (CBC News Ottawa – July 24, 2017)


Almost all of the Congo’s gold is illegally traded on the black market

A little over a month ago, Joanne Lebert boarded a plane to make the long flight from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Toronto. She was helping transport a tiny package that could change the way gold from the Congo is traded internationally.

Lebert, executive director of Partnership Africa Canada, was carrying 238 grams of raw gold purchased from mines near the remote town of Mambasa. According to PAC, Lebert’s import was one of the first legal gold purchases from the African nation.

Partnership Africa Canada is an Ottawa-based NGO that is spearheading efforts to ethically import gold from the Congo to Canada. They sent their first shipment to a jewelry store in Toronto that makes fair trade pieces. An estimated $28 billion in unrefined gold lies deep beneath the soil in the eastern regions of the Congo, but 98 per cent of it leaves the country illegally, according to the International Peace Information Service.

“Gold in the Congo is an extremely informal sector,” said Guillaume de Brier, a researcher at IPIS. “A miner will find gold [and] as his wealth is very remote in the forest, he will sell it to a top seller.”

‘You just need your courage and your tools’

In the province of Ituri, where Mambasa is located, the gold industry is mostly run by armed groups who patrol the mines.

More than half of Mambasa’s small population work in the 60 mines surrounding the town and most of the sites were run by armed fighters, according to the International Peace Information Service.

For the rest of this article: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/gold-mining-congo-ottawa-ngo-1.4216674