The Democratic Republic of Congo has announced support for a new copper-cobalt processing plant as part of efforts to formalise informal mining in the country. The Congolese company Buenassa will develop the estimated $350 million project.
Most of Congo’s vast mineral output comes from large foreign-owned operations like Glencore and China’s CMOC. But over 2 million Congolese local miners dig cautiously by hand, often in hazardous conditions.
Advocates argue that integrating these miners into the legal, regulated mining sector would improve livelihoods and workplace safety. It could also boost national revenues by tracking production.
The government and industry have faced pressure to enact reforms. The Buenassa plant aims to process copper-cobalt ore purchased from local miners, helping bring them into the formal supply chain.
However, considerable challenges remain in transforming local mining and ensuring equitable benefit sharing. Strict due diligence and transparency will be critical if the plant is to make real impacts.
Congo’s mineral riches fuel its economy, but they hardly uplift the lives of ordinary citizens. With the right safeguards, this project can help formalise local mining practices and direct more wealth to local communities. But the test will be translating policy into real, sustainable change on the ground.