Congo Signs Deal to Ship Over $1.5 Billion of Gold a Year to UAE


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Felix Tshisekedi President of Congo

By Michael J. Kavanagh
(Bloomberg) — Democratic Republic of Congo agreed to ship 25 tons of gold — worth more than $1.5 billion — a year to the United Arab Emirates as part of a crackdown on the illicit trade in the precious metal.

The smuggling of gold and other natural resources has long fueled conflict in the east of Congo. While the UAE denies any involvement in illegal practices, United Nations experts say most of the African nation’s smuggled gold transits through neighboring Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi before ending up in bullion-trading hub of Dubai.

To cut the link between conflict and smuggling, Congo has
entered a partnership with an Abu Dhabi-registered company to buy as much as 25 tons of hand-mined gold per year. A unit of Primera Group Ltd. made its first purchase of about 29 kilos of artisanal gold from South Kivu province earlier this month, Primera Chief Executive Officer Sib Ali told reporters Friday in the capital, Kinshasa.

“We hope to set up a full-proof ecosystem for the artisanal
gold value chain, starting with the 26,350 artisanal miners in
the South Kivu region to ensure full traceability to officially export gold from the DRC to the UAE,” Ali said.

Primera is targeting gold exports of 300 to 500 kilograms a week, which equates to as much as 25 tons a year, the CEO said.
That metal will be shipped to the company’s Auric Hub refinery in Abu Dhabi, he said.

High gold prices since the beginning of the Covid-19
pandemic have spurred informal gold mining in Congo as a means of employment and a source of funding for rebels. More than 100 armed groups are active in eastern Congo and over 4.4 million people have been displaced due to conflict, according to the UN.

“This is not only an answer to the security issues, but it
is also a contribution to the country’s economy, the effects of which we will soon see significantly,” said Congolese Finance Minister Nicolas Kazadi. Previously the government generated
almost no revenue from Congo’s artisanal gold trade, he said.

A second Primera subsidiary, Primera Metals, is planning to
soon launch a smelter in South Kivu’s capital, Bukavu, to
process tantalum and tin ore, according to Ali.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Michael J. Kavanagh in New York at mkavanagh9@bloomberg.net
To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Liezel Hill at lhill30@bloomberg.net
Dylan Griffiths


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