The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have signed a mining deal worth $1.9 billion for which the Gulf country will develop several mining fields.

The deal was signed Monday with state miner “Société Aurifère du Kivu et du Maniema”, “Zawya” reports, citing a statement from the Congo’s President Felix Tshisekedi office.

Shakhboot Nahyan Al Nahyan, UAE’s minister of State in the ministry of Foreign affairs, led the delegation to Kinshasa, Congo’s capital.

The partnership “will make it possible to set up more than four industrial mines which should connect the provinces of South Kivu and Maniema,” the president’s office said.

South Kivu and Maniema are awash with gold, tin ore and tantalum. The two provinces have suffered from decades of violence by armed groups, which sometimes support themselves through the illicit mineral trade.

In December, the African country announced that it would implement several initiatives to increase revenue and improve financial transparency from 2023, including a plan to formalize the artisanal gold trade. Congolese authorities expect the UAE to buy produced gold by the artisanal sector. Both countries are putting infrastructure in place to formalize the market to curb gold smuggling.

Primera Group, an UAE company and the African country launched a joint venture that shipping artisanally mined gold from South Kivu earlier this year.
Finance Minister Nicolas Kazadi said the agreement with Primera Gold – a subsidiary of Primera Group – will ultimately aim to export a ton of certified DRC gold each month.

Artisanal miners produce an estimated 20 tons of gold each year, but the bulk of it is smuggled to neighbouring Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda, before ending up on international markets. The central African country is the world’s largest cobalt producer and Africa’s top copper source. It is aiming to diversify its sources of income after mining led to 8.5% economic growth in 2022 per a report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

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