The DRC is a very resource-rich country, with large deposits of materials that are key for the Green Transition, like cobalt, copper, and lithium. Large-Scale Mining (LSM) operators, mainly multinational companies, have well-established sustainability policies and management systems that in principle cover the major sustainability issues related to the sourcing of these raw materials. However, due to the DRC’s insecure legal and economic environment, implementing such policies remains challenging.
Mine sites deal with sustainability issues in their own way, not always aware of what is best practice and how reciprocal collaboration can make a positive difference. Only in very few exceptional cases, there is collaboration on specific small-scale projects.
Exchanges between the mining companies are organized through the Chambre des Mines but are focused mainly on policy dialogue and analysis of the current situation.
Most international sustainability and development projects and efforts focus on the challenges related to Artisanal Mining and are not structurally linked with the entire group of Large-Scale Mining operators.
The wide gap in how western and non-western mining companies engage and their approach to the challenges they share in the DRC is coupled with a very low level of trust and willingness to exchange.
Translating corporate HQ sustainability policies and requirements is challenging to implement in the reality of daily operations in the affiliated mining companies.
This situation concurs to give the image that each individual mining site (concession) and its approach to sustainability depends very much on the expectations of a wide array of local stakeholders. As a result, companies pursue short-term positioning to ensure the daily licenses they need to operate. This makes the implementation of corporate policies more challenging and creates a sense of loneliness amongst staff members within each concession.
BUILDING LOCAL ENGAGEMENT IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS
For downstream companies, it is very difficult to engage at such a local level, especially if they source a multitude of raw materials. However, improvements can be initiated and implemented through engagement at the corporate level and collaborative action.
A risk due diligence approach needs to go together with an engagement model: a corporate approach to invest in the improvement of supply chains via cross-sectoral learning and collaborations.
Drive Sustainability and CSR Europe are acting in this direction, and invite corporate members to:
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