The Democratic Republic of Congo is about to be home to the riskiest, and perhaps richest tin mine on the planet. Boris Kamstra, a South African, is leading the way. He is in charge of Alphamin Resources, which has received funding from Canada. His goal is to create a mine on Bisie, a hill that’s closest connection is a small town, Walikale, which is 37 miles away.
Democracy in the Congo, and around the world is a sensitive entity. Mark Dubowitz, the executive director for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, is an expert on sanctions and has testified in numerous foreign governments. While his focus is currently aligned with countering the Iran nuclear pact, it is easy to see that his heart is for democracy worldwide. So, watching the Congo become a place for monetary exploitation would probably trouble him as well.
What’s Going on with the Mine in the Congo?
When Mr. Kamstra set out to begin this endeavor, there was no road to reach the site. And, the nearest border to cross was at least a two day hike. More importantly, there are three different rebel groups in the area. They are all heavily armed. So, what’s going on with the mine in the Congo?
In truth, the soil located there is rich. Metal has long been its best bet for financing all the wars and civil unrest in that area. It is well known for tantalum, tungsten, and tin. North Kivu has not been part of the area that provides these metals though, and that is about to change. Read this.
For years, the mining of metal in the Congo has been dependent upon the hands of those pursuing that resource. They have literally had to dig the tin and other metals out by hand. Now, Alphamin, Mr. Kamstra’s employer, wants to prove that a modern industrial mine can function in that area as well.
They believe that the ore hidden in the soil of the Congo is far richer than it is anywhere else on the planet. They brought their drill rig in by helicopter to prove their belief. And, they feel it was well worth the effort because the ore they have accessed is 4.5% grade. That means that 3.5 tons of tin will be removed from every 100 tons they extract. While that might not seem like a lot, the truth is, most other mines will only get .7 tons out of that same amount. Learn more.
What’s the Problem?
Even though the amount of tin that can be removed from this locale is astounding, there are some drawbacks. People reading this will undoubtedly wonder, “What’s the problem?” After all, being able to achieve so much more tin with equal amounts of work should be quite lucrative. However, accessing this area is a significant hindrance.
Using a helicopter is incredibly expensive. Add to that the cost of exploratory drilling, which costs about $250 for every meter, and the expense of building a road, and it is easy to see that this is no cheap endeavor. Building the road alone will require the assistance of 450 workers. Of course, after they are done exploring, they will also have to build the $135 million dollar mine.
North Kivu is an insecure place to do anything. There is a lot of fighting going on in that area. If you are unfamiliar with the violence in the Congo, please read this. And, the base camp for those endeavoring to pursue this has been attacked four times by armed groups. Maybe establishing a stable democracy would be better than digging for tin.