A Lot of Gold, A Lot of Trouble

REPORT | 25 June 2012
Congolese national army soldier at artisanal mine on Mineral Invest concession area. Photo:Nils Resare

Swedwatch has taken a critical look at Mineral Invest AB and its ability to operate within the law and internationally accepted business norms as they seek to explore, exploit and trade gold in the DR Congo.

At the end of 2010, Swedwatch and Diakonia began hearing about a small Stockholm-based gold exploration, mining and trading company operating in DR Congo. Considering the need for investment as a vehicle for growth in Africa on the one hand, and the risks involved with operating in post-conflict areas on the other – Mineral Invest caught our attention.

The joint venture agreement between Mineral Invest and the Congolese state-run mining company, SOKIMO, lacks transparency and features significant payments to the State of DR Congo without specifying the recipient authority or entity within the state, which is a problem of transparency.

The joint venture between Mineral Invest and SOKIMO, also implies conflicts of interest and a lack of clarity. SOKIMO being both provider of mining licenses and at the same time having a financial interest implies a concentration of power that can create conflicts of interest and invite corruption.

Finansinspektionen, the Swedish financial regulator, and Aktietorget, the Swedish market where Mineral Invest is publicly traded, have insufficient regulation and guidance for companies operating in difficult or post-conflict countries.

Further, Mineral Invest has contracted a unit of the Congolese military to provide security. This unit, however, has been implicated in the ethnic slaughter of pygmies and cannibalism. The soldiers have also been accused of extorting gold from miners.

Made in collaboration with: Diakonia