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Hello Lucy, thanks for your reaction. We have plans on improving our work - we'll very soon add some functions to the map for instance, so that people can more easily make sense of the disparities among companies. If funding allows, we also hope to expand to two new provinces where industrial gold exploitation is either already taking place or ramping up quickly. Diamonds are not on our list in the immediate future; we want to keep focused on industrial mining (diamond exploitation is almost exclusively artisanal) and also want to make sure we can keep the level of detail we've been looking for in Katanga. We also want to work more closely with a selection of local groups, which we expect to be a quite time-consuming (but interesting!) process.

I'm interested in hearing any new development you come across to make information more accessible and understandable!

Thanks,

Elisabeth

Thanks for your comment Elisabeth, I can imagine the formidable obstacles you are up against when hunting down contracts in the DRC. We are well aware of congomines actually, & have found it a fantastic documentation centre, seems quite unique as a "one stop shop" for the engaged citizen/stakeholder browsing for information in the public domain without traipsing round the maze of websites you mention. This is something we would love to see replicated for other countries where contracts are available for oil, gas and mining deals, starting with Colombia, Peru and Ghana. 

 

Impressed by your map too - incredible detail given the context of disparate mines and the widespread informal sector in the DRC. Do you have plans  to expand outside of Katanga to the diamond-producing regions and others?

Addressing the information gap is a long-term process, you're right, but as soon as reformed extractives sectors start producing a trickle of contracts in the public domain, work has to begin on bridging that divide and empowering people to make use of the data at their fingertips. Keep up the good work.

Lucy

Hello Lucy, interesting post, that sounds so familiar in terms of challenges we are dealing with... Contract disclosure is only the first step, access and the capacity to analyze and understand are equally necessary. The three steps are at the core of our work in the DR Congo. We've been advocating for disclosure, especially after a sector-wide contract review which lead to unpublished renegotiated contracts - but are facing a lot of technical obstacles. Some are published on the website of the ministry of finance, others on the ministry of mines, others yet on the website of the state-owned company's site. Titles of those documents are totally unreadable for people who don't know the names of the parties to the contract (like Convention de partenariat entre Samref Congo et la Générale des Carrières et des Mines : would you know this contract is about Glencore's Mutanda Mining?).

What we did to bridge the access gap is to create a separate website, www.congomines, where we upload all the different contracts in a well-organized way. You can search by company, by type of document, by source, etc. The site doesn't only include contracts but also production data, revenue information, annual reports of stock-listed parent companies, NGO reports, etc. It also includes a map which shows which projects are in production and which ones in exploration. We hope to create a one-stop shop for information on industrial mining in the DRC, and started with its most active province, Katanga. 

But even then, as you mention, access to data doesn't mean that a broad audience will understand what's on there. So we try to provide training to analyse impacts both locally (human rights impact assessments) but also more nationally (revenue flows to the budget). In the coming two years, we want to work with selected Congolese activist groups to analyse one or two specific case studies, so that they will feel empowered enough to take on other cases afterwards. It takes time, money and energy, but I think little less will manage to really address the information gap.

Elisabeth

The Carter Center Mining Governance Project / Katanga, DR Congo