Zahabu Safi project deputy chief of party Lazarre Potier highlighted the three key objectives of the project during a webinar held last month on ‘Exploring gold potential in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)’, which was aimed at drawing attention to the gold prospects of a country renowned for its cobalt and copper.
Zahabu Safi is the formal name of the Commercially Viable Conflict-Free Gold Project launched in 2019 by the US Agency for International Development.
The five-year, $11.9-million programme intends to build on recent successes achieved by donor-funded initiatives to export responsibly produced gold to jewellery buyers in North America and Europe.
Its first objective is to increase co-investment in responsible artisanal or small-scale mining (ASM), as well as in gold mining from eastern DRC.
Potier explained that increased co-investment would enhance the reputation, visibility and availability of responsibly sourced artisanal gold from eastern DRC through targeted and ongoing market research.
Additionally, it will facilitate engagements with gold refiners, retailers and other downstream supply chain actors.
The second objective seeks to increase exports of responsible, traceable ASM-mined gold from the region.
The project will strengthen the capacity of ASM cooperatives, traders and exporters to participate in and/or conduct due diligence that adheres to international and regional standards.
These standards include, among others: The DRC’s Initiative de Traçabilité de l’Or d’Exploitation Artisanale, and the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region and Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s ‘Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas’.
Potier said that the third and final objective looks at improving corporate governance and business operations of ASM cooperatives.
The project will apply humanitarian aid organisation Global Communities’ tested, participatory model for cooperative development, adopting the five-pronged approach to working with cooperatives to improve governance and business practices.
This will result in an increase in cooperatives’ income and member equity, he stressed.
Additional topics raised during the webinar included examining the potential for further gold mining in the north-east of the DRC, how government could support junior mining companies in the development of gold exploration projects and whether joint venture agreements between juniors and majors can fast-track new gold developments.
The role of juniors in alleviating poverty through job creation, the experiences of current gold mining juniors, and means of harnessing the potential of artisanal miners and their integration in the value chain were also discussed.