CAFOD calls on mining giant AngloGold Ashanti to share its contract with local community

CAFOD welcomes the news that the review of mining company AngloGold Ashanti’s contract in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has been concluded after almost three years of negotiations. The Catholic agency stresses the need for the publication of the contract and its amendments and calls on AngloGold Ashanti to share it immediately with the local community in DRC.

The contract between the South African company and the DRC government confirms a joint venture to mine one of the largest unexplored goldfields in Africa. Although reduced from 9,000km2 under its exploration contract to 6,000km2, the mining area is still about 60 times the size of Paris and contains around 3 million ounces of gold. The site includes the town of Mongbwalu in the Ituri district of north eastern DRC, an area scarred by war and marked by desperate poverty and unemployment.

The size of the mining area means the impacts on the local community and the environment will be significant but no information about the company’s plans to conduct a Social and Environmental Impact Assessment has been released to date. In a January report about the company’s DRC project, Golden Opportunity or False Hope?, CAFOD made the case that those who stand to be most affected should be informed and involved in every phase of the mine’s development and that AngloGold Ashanti should seek broad community consent for the project before proceeding any further with developing the mine.

CAFOD Policy Analyst, Sonya Maldar said “DRC’s vast mineral wealth should have provided a ticket to prosperity. In reality it has trapped the country in a cycle of violence and poverty. If the people of Mongbwalu are to benefit from this gold mine there must be transparency of information about the project. It is vital the contract is not only published in its entirety but that AngloGold Ashanti commits to sharing the full details directly with local people in a format they can understand.”

Following the finalisation of the contract, a number of issues remain to be clarified. In particular, it is unclear why the size of the concession has been reduced by 3,000km2 and where its boundaries now fall. It is also unclear why and where it will continue to reduce in size over the next three years by a further 30%. The company’s amodiation (rental) agreement with the government, as well as its agreed revenue payments and social obligations should also be made public.

The AngloGold Ashanti contract is one over 60 mining contracts which have been under renegotiation as part of a DRC government-led process. The contract review, which started in 2007, has been characterised by a lack of transparency and the exclusion of Congolese civil society from discussions. During the review, despite community requests, Anglo Gold Ashanti did not supply information about their plans for large-scale mine operations and future social development programmes. Now that the contract has been finalised, there should be no further delays in sharing this important information with the community.

Father Alfred Buju, head of the Justice and Peace Commission of Bunia Diocese is the joint-coordinator of local civil society network Cadre de Concertation. He said: “For too long the people of Mongbwalu have been kept in the dark about the future of this mining project. With the signing of the contract, AngloGold Ashanti and the government now have a chance to show they are serious about transparency. Publication of the contract is essential for the people of Mongbwalu to understand the implications of this vast project on their doorstep.”

Note to Editors:
•    CAFOD has been supporting the Cadre de Concertation to monitor the progress of the AngloGold Ashanti project in DR Congo since 2006.

•    The population of Mongbwalu is approximately 32,000 people

•    AngloGold Ashanti and OKIMO form the joint venture company Ashanti Goldfields Kilo (AGK) in Ituri. AngloGold Ashanti holds an 86.22% share and OKIMO holds 13.78%

•    Golden Opportunity or False Hope? can be found on the CAFOD website in both French and English

For further information or interview request please contact: Pascale Palmer on: Tel: 020 7095 5459 or mobile: 07785 950 585 or email: