Natural resources and energy
Mining has been the cornerstone of
Congo-Kinshasa's formal economy since colonial times,
although its contribution to GDP has declined since the
1980s. However, some recovery has taken place. Copper,
cobalt and diamonds are the most important minerals.
Large quantities are also extracted from zinc, gold,
cassiterite, manganese, cadmium, germanium, silver,
tungsten and coltan.
The rise in recent years is due to the fact that
foreign mining companies have been able to return after
being excluded for decades after the previous statehood.
A law that regulates the mining industry was adopted in
2002 and guarantees investors' ownership of their
facilities and reduces the influence of the state. The
law was criticized for being too generous towards the
companies. The state was accused of selling its assets
far too cheaply.
Major exports by Democratic Republic of the Congo with a full list of the top products exported by the country. Includes trade value in U.S. dollars and the percentage for each product category.
At the same time, in almost every mining industry,
since the late 1990s, there has been a development from
organized, industrial production to artisanal, more or
less illegal mining. Often, young men have been flocking
to mines that have been abandoned since state-controlled
production collapsed. The working conditions are fatal
and the workers are forced to pay a large number of
bribes to the police and military to enter the mining
Armed groups have enriched themselves in the mining
industry. This is particularly the case in the Kivu
provinces, where gold, tungsten, coltan and casserite
are mainly mined. The recovery began on a larger scale
in 1996, when war broke out and first Rwanda and then
Uganda invaded the area (see Modern History). Although
the war formally ended in 2002–2003, illegal activity
continued in the power vacuum that ensued. Both foreign
and domestic rebel groups benefit from the mineral
trade. This means that the central government continues
to lose revenue, and in addition, the profits go largely
to continued fighting.
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Congo-Kinshasa is believed to have among the largest
unexploded gold deposits in Africa, primarily in the
Kivu provinces and Ituri. The mining takes place mainly
on a small scale and under almost completely unregulated
forms. Congolese authorities have estimated that about
40 tonnes of gold are smuggled out of the country each
year. In 2011, however, a Canadian company began mining
gold in the Twangiza mine in South Kivu, the first major
commercial gold mining since independence.
The deposits of cassiterite, also called tartar, and
coltan (columbit-tantalite) are often mentioned as
particularly driving forces in the conflicts in Congo.
Congo has the largest cash resources in Africa and a
large proportion of the world's coltan. Coltan is used
in mobile phones and other electronic equipment.
During the half-year 2010–2011, all mining was
officially banned in both Kiwi provinces and in
neighboring Maniema to try to prevent the rebels from
making money. The quarry, however, mainly led to 2
million families being deprived of their livelihoods and
the government army taking over the illegal activities.
Soldiers, prisoners and forced laborers were ordered to
Copper is found mainly in the southeastern province
of Katanga, which borders Zambia and the copper belt
there. Congo is estimated to have around a tenth of the
world's copper assets - accounting for 3.4 percent of
extraction in 2012. Copper production fell dramatically
in connection with the international financial crisis in
2008, but has since recovered.
Cobalt is a by-product of copper mining.
Congo-Kinshasa is the world's third largest producer of
cobalt and is estimated to have more than half of the
world's reserves. The government has made several
attempts to introduce an export ban on unprocessed
copper and cobalt in order to encourage processing in
the country. But the prohibitions are difficult to
enforce because of the large electricity shortage that
makes it difficult to operate refineries.
Katanga also contains most of the country's zinc and
Diamonds are found mainly in the Kasai provinces in
the south, and partly in Orientale in the northeast.
Recovery has declined steadily in recent years, but
Congo still accounted for just over 5 percent of world
production in 2012. The country has joined the so-called
Kimberley Process, which is to ensure that illegally
mined diamonds do not come on the market.
Electricity is produced almost exclusively by
hydropower. If the capacity of the Congo River was fully
developed, it would be able to supply electricity
throughout Africa. But only about three percent of this
power reserve has been used so far. An expansion of the
hydroelectric plant None near the outlet of the Congo
River has long been planned, but is constantly delayed.
However, a new agreement on the expansion was signed
with a Chinese and a Spanish company in the fall of
Most electricity is used in the mining industry.
Households are generally referred to using wood or
There is oil off the narrow coastal strip on the
Atlantic. Crude oil is exported, as the country's only
refinery has no capacity to process it. Significant oil
deposits are also found on the large lakes in the east
and extensive exploration is ongoing. Coal is broken but
to a lesser extent.
FACTS - ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT
Energy use per person
384 kilos of oil equivalent (2014)
Electricity consumption per person
107 kilowatt hours, kWh (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions in total
4,672,000 tonnes (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions per inhabitant
0.1 ton (2014)
The share of energy from renewable sources
95.8 percent (2015)
The UN force is changing its name
The UN force Monuc is being reformed and renamed
Human rights activist is murdered
Human rights activist Floribert Chebeya is murdered
in Kinshasa. He is found dead in his car after being
called to a meeting with police.