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September 12, 2010

President Joseph Kabila announced on Thursday night that he was suspending all mining operations around Walikale, North Kivu province, during a speech at a banquet in Goma attended by local authorities and representatives of the civil society.

Kabila, who questioned the identity of those who benefit from mining in the region – and the destination of these minerals and the benefits from their sale, compared these operations to a “mafia” and said he wondered why nothing was being done to stop it.

He urged local businessmen to invest in building an ore refinery in North Kivu province.

The Minister of Mining, Martin Kabwelulu, said in a press release on Saturday that the suspension will be extended to all mining operations in North Kivu, South Kivu and Maniema provinces.

Kabwelulu said that President Kabila, after “his many visits and after analyzing the situation of mining in the east” of the country, had come to the “the sad conclusion” that mining in the region is mainly operated by “mafia” groups, which are fueling insecurity in the region.

Kabwelulu cited “the paradox between the mineral resources that abound in the Eastern provinces and the widespread poverty of their populations.”

He said that there was a “clear involvement of some local, provincial, and national authorities – both civilian and in the military –  involved in the illegal exploitation and illicit trade of minerals.”

“This decision, which goes into effect immediately, is applicable to all categories of actors in mining, which means, the holders of mining rights and titles, trading houses, brokers and artisanal miners”, Kabwelulu said.