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Gold mining in the Ulindi River by Kun Hou Mining, Shabunda, RDC

Numerous corruption scancals between different state agencies and collusion of interests between Kun Hou Mining with the rebel group Raia Mutomboki in the exploitation of gold in Ulindi river's banks.


 En français ci-dessous ---------------------------- To set up on the banks of the Ulindi River and secure its access, the Kun Hou Mining company paid thousands of dollars to factions of the armed rebel group Raia Mutomboki and also provided them with AK-47 assault rifles. The Shabunda Basic Forest Conservation Organization denounced from the beginning of 2014 this collusion between the company and the rebels. In September, the company installed four semi-industrial dredges and smuggled most of its production abroad. Thus, the people of Shabunda do not benefit from the gold mining production and they still lack basic infrastructure. They have no access to electricity or running water and suffer terrible living conditions. In 2014, Shabunda Hospital reported 535 cases of malnutrition. The rebel groups, backed by Kun Hou Mining, terrorize the population and the artisanal miners, steal their belongings, utter threats and physical violence. At least 50 artisanal dredgers operate on the territory controlled by the rebel group who requires 10,000 CFA francs per dredge per week, in addition to 350,000 CFA francs monthly. The 2016 Global Witness report has received some resonance in the international press. The London-based NGO denounces the illegality of Kun Hou Mining's presence and their funding of the rebel group. This situation was investigated and denounced a year before by the NGOs network of the Great Lakes Region: the Great Lakes Civil Society Coalition Against the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources (COSOC-GL). At the time of its investigation in the field, this network reports that the Congolese official army, the FARDC, would do nothing to change the situation, but on the contrary it collaborates with the rebels and it illegally taxes the artisanal mining activity. COSOC-GL adds that the FARDC has since ceased this practice. The artisanal miners come mainly from the Orientale Province. The local population works in the trade of equipment and in places of restoration for the miners. The gold activity in Shabunda territory have many environmental consequences that are ignored by Kun Hou Mining, the artisanal miners and the local authorities. Each drag uses at least two kilograms of mercury a week. This massive use of mercury is worrying for the COSOC-GL network which advocates that for the terrestrial and aquatic environment to be better protected the mining sector should be better governed. In March and June 2015, Prime Minister Matata Ponyo summoned the governor of South Kivu Province to stop all dredging activities on the river given the high levels of radioactivity. Despite a provincial decree, the situation did not change on the ground. And in August 2015, when an activist reported this situation in a local radio, he was arrested by the Congolese army. Again in October 2015, the national minister Martin Kabwelulu ordered provincial authorities to confiscate Kun Hou Mining's dredges. Not only did the governor of South Kivu, Marcelin Cishambo ignored this directive but in addition he required the Chinese company to pay him an advance of 90,000 US dollars to continue its activities in 2016. In March 2016, Global Witness reported that at least two Chinese dredges were still operating. The National Federation of Craftsmen's Diamond, Gold and Other Minerals Committees (FENACED) reports the too many taxes collected from artisanal miners and also denounces the irregularities or even the illegality of some of them. According to the Congolese law, the state agency SAESSCAM is supposed to tax the artisanal miners working on the zones officially designated as Artisanal Zones of Exploitation (AZE). The Shabunda territory was recognized as an AZE in December 2015. Even before that date, SAESSCAM agents were present in Shabunda and taxed up to 10% of the production of artisanal miners, even in controlled areas by Raia Mutomboki. According to estimates by the COSOC-GL network, taxes levied illegally by SAESSCAM amounted to $ 1.3 million per month. In September 2017, Kun Hou Mining was still present in Shabunda, without any changes in the way it is operating or being controlled. 

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Gold mining in the Ulindi River by Kun Hou Mining, Shabunda, RDC
Country:Congo, Dem. Rep.
State or province:South kivu
Location of conflict:Shabunda territory
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Mineral ore exploration
Specific commodities:Gold
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The gold from the Ulindi river's bank is exploited by artisanal miners and by a Chinese company, Kun Hou Mining, established in the Shabunda area since September 2014. Neither artisanal miners nor the Chinese company have mining licenses. Given the irregular nature of their presence and activities, none officially report the level of their production. According to the 2015 COSOC-GL report, at least 175 artisanal dredges are installed on the banks of the Ulindi River and four dredges belong to Kun Hou Mining. Between 2014 and 2015, the NGO estimates that the production of artisanal miners amounted to 550 kg per month and that of the four Chinese dredges to 110 kg. The only documented gold sale by Kun Hou Mining was twelve kilos of gold for almost half a million dollars. The sale took place in Bukavu, the capital of South Kivu Province and the client was Alfa Gold, a company that exports exclusively to Dubai.

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Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:01/09/2014
Company names or state enterprises:Kun Hou Mining from China
Alfa Gold Tr LLC, Dubai (Alfa gold) from United Arab Emirates
Alfa Gold Corp DMCC from United Arab Emirates
Alfa Gold Corp Ltd from United Kingdom
Cavichi Jewellery LLC from United Arab Emirates - Trading house, whose subsidiary based in Bukavu, exported gold from South Kivu to Dubai
Relevant government actors:Ministère des Mines, Gouverneur de South Kivu, SAESSCAM (Services d’Assistance et d’Encadrement de Small Scale Mining), Division des Mines, Chefferie de Bakisi.
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:FENACED: La Fédération Nationale des Comités des Exploitants Artisanaux de Diamant, Or et autres Minerais, la Coalition de la société civile de la région des Grands Lacs contre l’exploitation illégale des ressources naturelles (COSOC-GL), Global Witness, ONG OBACOFOSHA (Organisation de Base pour la conservation des forêts de Shabunda).
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Artisanal miners
Informal workers
International ejos
Local ejos
Trade unions
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Potential: Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Mine tailing spills, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Other Environmental impacts
Other Environmental impactspollution de la rivière au mercure et par le carburant des dragues (oxydes d'azote, chlorofluorocarbone, dioxyde de carbone et dioxyde de soufre).
Health ImpactsVisible: Malnutrition, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Potential: Accidents, Occupational disease and accidents
Other Health impactsplongeurs, estimation d'un mort par mois, les exploitants miniers ignorent les risques liés à l'utilisation du mercure.
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Increase in violence and crime, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Other socio-economic impacts, Specific impacts on women
Potential: Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..)
Other socio-economic impactsKun Hou Mining finance le groupe rebelle armé Raia Mutomboki, travail d'enfants, les rebelles exigent un droit de passage sur leur territoire, 1.000 Francs cfa pour les hommes, 3.000 francs pour les femmes, présence de la FARDC (l'armée congolaise).
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Criminalization of activists
Violent targeting of activists
Financement et armements pour le groupes rebels armés, censure des medias, taxations illégales par la SAESSCAM des mineurs artisanaux
Development of alternatives:EN -------- Numerous recommendations by COSOG-GL in its report from 2015: reform SAESSCAM, judge its agents who illegally taxed the artisanal miners, better control Kun Hou Mining activities and tax its production, sensitize the population and the artisanal miners on the effects of mercury. --------FR--------- Quelques une des recommendations, telles que rédigées par la COSOC-GL, dans son rapport de Juillet 2015:
Fin définitive de la collaboration des entités étatiques avec le groupe rebel;
Formalisation du travail de l'entreprise chinoise, et que celle-ci se conforme à la législation prévue;
Encadrement et surveillance du travail de Kin Hou Mining et de son impact environnemental par la Division des Mines;
Formalisation des équipes d'exploitants artisanaux par le SAESSCAM et encadrement de ces derniers par la Division des Mines;
Sensibilisation sur les effets nocifs du mercure, dans le but d'en eliminer l'usage;
Coordination d'une étude sur les impacts environnmentaux du mercure par la division des mines en collaboration avec la coordination provinciale de l'environnement et de la conservation;
Application de la législation par la SAESSCAM et des autres agents étatiques lorsqu'il s'agit de prélèvements d'impots liés à l'activité minière;
Formalisation des taxes perçues par la Chefferie de Bakisi;
Juger les agents de SAESSCAM pour les prélèvements illégaux effectués.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:-----EN--- The situation remains the same after the two NGOs (COSOC-GL et Global Witness) issued their reports.
----FR---- La situation reste la meme et ce après la publication des deux rapports par deux ONG (COSOC-GL et Global Witness).
Sources & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Décret de 2012, qui stipule que les exploitations minières artisanales ne peuvent avoir lieu que sur des zones validées par l'Etat

Règlement Minier 2003

Code Minier de 2002

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

River of Gold, Global Witness Report, June 2016
[click to view]

River of Gold, Version en Francais du rapport de Global Witness, Juin 2016
[click to view]

COSOC-GL, La ruée vers l'or à Shabunda. Pratiques et impacts de l'exploitation minière par dragues. Juillet 2015
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

RD Congo : comment une entreprise chinoise a armé des miliciens locaux pour exploiter de l’or à l’Est, Jeune Afrique, 6 Juillet 2016
[click to view]

River of gold - one year on, much talk but little has changed, Global Witness August 2017
[click to view]

Congo's mines minister calls for "genuine clean up" of gold sector following Global Witness investigation into chaotic boom in Country's East, August 30, 2016
[click to view]

Exclusif – RDC : nouvelles révélations sur les liens entre la société chinoise Kun Hou Mining et des milices armées de l’Est, Jeune Afrique, 25 Novembre 2016
[click to view]

RDC: une pétition demande le départ du gouverneur du Sud-Kivu, Rfi Afrique, 12 Juillet 2017
[click to view]

'Clean up' artisanal mining sector in South Kivu, DRC minister warns after gold rush exposé, August 31 2016
[click to view]

Shabunda, la patria dell’oro illegale del Congo, Fulvio Beltrami, 3/01/2018
[click to view]

DRC Mining Minister calls for clean-up of country’s artisanal mining sector, Mining Weekly, 07/10/2016
[click to view]

RDC : le scandale de l’or de la rivière Ulindi, pillé par une société chinoise, Le Monde, 5 juillet 2016
[click to view]

La rivière d'or: échos de Shabunda, Global Witness, Décembre 19, 2016
[click to view]

« La rivière d'or » – Un an plus tard: des mots, mais pas d'actes, Global Witness, 14 Aout 2017
[click to view]

Mining Company Funds Armed Men in Eastern Congo Gold Rush While State Loses Tax Windfall, July 6th 2016
[click to view]

Shabunda: La société civile dénonce l’exploitation de l’or par drague par une société chinoise, Septembre 2017
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

En images : les enfants dans les mines du Sud-Kivu, 18 mai 2017
[click to view]

Other documents

"Drague à chaîne à godets de l’entreprise Kunhou Mining Group opérationnel sur la rivière Ulindi" Source. Rapport de COSOC-GL, Juillet 2015
[click to view]

Shabunda town Source. Global Witness Report. July 2016
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:EnvJustice Team - Camila Rolando Mazzuca
Last update05/02/2018
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