DRC: Canadian Banro suspends operations in Maniema

Canadian mining company Banro has temporarily suspended operations in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo for security reasons.

The eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which has been insecure for more than two decades, continues to be an area where it is dangerous to operate. In a letter dated September 24 to the Inspector General of the Congolese Ministry of Labour, the Canadian gold group Banro « decided to suspend operations[in four of its subsidiaries1] and the employment contracts of all their employees due to force majeure ». At the heart of the problem are « serious and ongoing security concerns in Namoya/Salamabila, including harassment and raids on Banro’s supply lines, attacks on the mine site itself and threats to employees, » says Brett Richards, CEO of the mining company, in dismay.

1 These subsidiaries are Namoya Mining SA, Lugushwa Mining SA, Kamituga Mining SA and Banro Mining Congo SA.

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In fact, due to the security conditions prevailing in this region of the DRC, the Canadian company has already taken similar measures in the past. In May 2017, Banro suspended operations at the Namoya mine in Maniema after militia leader Sheikh Assani Hazaifa Mitende kidnapped several of his employees. At the end of July, four other employees were kidnapped and then released, after the group was « forced to sign a memorandum of understanding » with the rebel leader and the Mai-Mai self-defence militias, the firm’s leader added in his letter. An announcement that upset the authorities of the province, and for good reason: Banro employs a thousand people in the province of Maniema. Quoted by RFI, Governor Auguy Musafiri Nkola, while saying he was « very concerned about this situation, which is not new », nevertheless assured that « a solution would be found by Wednesday 2 October ».