The Platform of Civil Society Organizations Working in the Mining Sector (POM) is a network, founded in 2009, which currently brings together 22 nonprofits, mainly located in the Katanga Region in the Southeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
POM is working to reform mining sector governance in the DRC with the goal of improving the living conditions of populations impacted by mining projects. Efforts are primarily focused around improving transparency, strengthening the accountability of public leaders and representatives, building capacity of civil society organizations, and bolstering laws and regulations and their compliance.
The mission of POM is to offer a space for civil society organizations to come together to share resources and information and strategize on alternative proposals for better governance in the mining sector.
POM is working to reform mining sector governance in the DRC with the goal of improving the living conditions of populations impacted by mining projects. Efforts are primarily focused around improving transparency, strengthening the accountability of public leaders and representatives, building capacity of civil society organizations, bolstering laws and regulations and their compliance, and contributing to the sustainable management of ecosystems.
The Katanga Region is bordered by the neighboring countries of Angola, Zambia and Tanzania. The Region includes 4 provinces: Haut-Katanga, Lualaba, Haut-Lomami and Tanganyika.
The Katanga Region is very rich in mineral resources such as copper, cobalt and uranium. While the region is resource rich, it suffers from the proverbial “resource curse,” where local populations receive minimal benefits, whether economic or social, from the mining of resources in their locales.
The 2002 mining code and regulations led to the liberalization of the mining sector and the attraction of new mining investors in the DRC. In 2002, there were just 35 mining companies in the DRC compared with 482 companies in 2016. Production of metals also grew in that timeframe. Copper production grew from 28,000 tons in 2002 to 1,035,000 tons in 2016. And cobalt production grew from 12,000 tons to 69,000 tons in 2016. The production of copper and cobalt along with other metals place the DRC amongst the top African producers of mining products.
However, mining investment and increased mining production in the DRC had failed to produce positive impacts on the mobilization of state finances, community development and the protection of the natural environment.
Mining governance was characterized by customs and tax evasion, pollution of the environment, the intensification of the poverty of the populations living around the industrial and artisanal mining areas, the corruption of the agents of the mining administration at all levels of the state, and the interference of political authorities, police and military in mining.
The 2002 mining code did not provide any provisions for the principle of free, prior and informed consent. Therefore, few mining investors consulted with local populations during the development and implementation of their mining projects.
From 2012 to 2018, the work of the POM was mainly focused on advocating for improvements to the DRC Mining Code and Mining Regulations. The DRC Mining Code of 2002 presented weaknesses particularly in relation to taxation and the development of local communities living within industrial mining zones.
POM’s technical expertise and advocacy in community development facilitated the revision of the Mining Code in 2018 by inserting new favorable provisions which could stimulate the development of local communities.
Some of the new aspects that promote sustainable development include:
- Communities are involved in the negotiation, development and signing of contractual obligations with mining companies in their areas;
- Mining companies must pay a portion of mining royalties directly to affected local communities;
- Mining companies must contribute 0.3% of their gross annual profit towards a social development fund for affected local communities;
- Mining companies must compensate affected local communities in the event of relocation and resettlement.
The revised Mining Code sets considerable monetary benefits for affected local communities in order to boost grassroots development. Tens of millions of U.S. dollars in royalty payments is to be paid directly to communities every month.
However, several concerns remain: how local communities will actually benefit from this fund, how they will invest in its management, and how they will negotiate and implement the contractual obligations.
POM is now focused on:
- Building capacities of local communities to monitor and manage the funds for sustainable development.
- Building capacities of communities to elaborate, negotiate, sign and implement contractual obligations and monitoring and control techniques.
- Advocating with local and national authorities for compliance with fiscal obligations related to the mining royalties and funds for community development and drafting of contractual obligations by mining companies.