SarWatch Writer

SARW is engaged in a process of capacity building for Decentralised Territorial Entities (DTEs) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). As part of this initiative, in February 2020 SARW signed an agreement with the Kingdom of Bayeke, a DTE located in Lualaba Province, for support in the process of signing a list of common responsibilities or Cahier des Charges (CDC) with Tenke Fungurume Mining (TFM). For ten days, the SARW team held consultative meetings with local communities in three customary administrative entities directly affected by the TFM project, including 46 villages surrounding the concession of this mining company.

The Mining Code, as revised in 2018, stipulates that all mining companies must sign a Cahier des Charges with the local communities affected by their activities (article 285). These CDCs define the corporate social responsibilities of the holder of the mining license towards the communities. The CDC serves to guide and organise the implementation of the social commitments of the holders of mining licenses in relation to the development of socio-economic infrastructure and social services for the mining communities.

The negotiation process leading to the drafting of the Cahier des Charges includes the identification of the priority needs of affected communities by the Local Development Committee (LDC). This committee is composed of the local administrative authority, representatives of local communities, and delegates of the mining license holder. National technical expertise and civil society organisations specialised in corporate social responsibility (CSR) are also involved to support the process. (See article 11 of the Directive on the Standard Model Statement of Corporate Social Responsibility).

Lacking the required technical capacity, the Kingdom of Bayeke called on SARW’s expertise to assist it in the process of concluding the Cahier des Charges with TFM. This support goes beyond a mere Cahier des Charges as it also includes support in drafting the Bayeke Local Development Plan (LDP), building capacity for the members of its administration (through training sessions on the management of mining revenues directly paid to the DTE), setting up a monitoring and evaluation mechanism, and organising advocacy in support of the kingdom with the authorities and mining companies.

In this first phase, members of the villages consulted presented their basic social needs. These revolve around support for the mechanisation of agriculture, the modernisation of their livestock, the construction of primary and secondary schools, the creation of a university, access to drinking water, and the construction of hospitals and health centers.

This infrastructure will be financed with funds generated by the revenues paid by the mining companies. Among the main innovations of the revised Mining Code (articles 242 and 258) is the requirement that mining companies pay a 15 per cent share of the mining royalty directly to the DTEs. Companies also have the obligation to set up an endowment fund for contributions to community development projects equivalent to 0.3 per cent of the annual turnover, which is made available to the communities for the execution of community projects. Companies must sign a Cahiers des Charges with local communities affected by their activities.

Two years after the enactment of the law, no progress has been made in terms of implementation. The process of signing the Cahiers des Charges (CDCs) between mining companies and local communities has still not started, and the funds generated by the 15 per cent mining royalty have not yet been properly allocated. It is with the aim of helping to resolve some of these challenges that the project of support to the Bayeke Kingdom was set up.

Although delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the implementation of this project started with a methodological workshop and consultations in several villages. The data collected enabled SARW to identify the priority needs of the local communities visited and these will be presented to TFM. The negotiation of the Cahier des Charges between the company and the local communities will be based on these identified needs. Data collection will continue throughout the kingdom in order to design a LDP that speaks to the economic, socio-cultural and ecological realities of this DTE and the need to build a sustainable local economy.

In view of the needs expressed by the members of communities affected by TFM’s mining activities and pending the signature of the Cahier des Charges, the implementation of projects that meet these needs will improve the living conditions of the population within an estimated period of five years.

In addition to the infrastructural needs expressed, the communities consulted raised other problems related to the violation of their rights by TFM. They raised the issue of employment and the quota reserved for local people (which has still not been resolved). Another concern is the pollution and scarcity of water caused by the construction in the mine of a lime factory that dried up the water sources that the villages were using, paralysing all agricultural activities. More on this issue will follow in our coming publications.