New DRC Minister of Mines Visits Antwerp, Signs MoU for ASM Mine-to-Market Pilot

21/10/2021 11:18

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s new minister of mines, Mrs Antoinette N’Samba Kalambayi and a high-level delegation of representatives of various DRC government agencies supervised by the Mining Ministry was welcomed in Antwerp yesterday by the AWDC and met with several stakeholders of Antwerp’s diamond community. The DRC’s first female mining Minister, a well-known civil rights activist, was appointed to lead the key position in April of this year. The delegation got a demonstration of Antwerp’s Diamond Office import and export procedures and controls, the lab at HRD Antwerp and received an extensive tour behind the scenes of HB Antwerp, the company that is making waves in the global diamond industry through its innovative, vertically integrated, and sustainability-focused approach.

In the framework of the visit, AWDC extended the MoU it signed in 2019 with the DRC’s valuation office CEEC, looking to continue the successful tenders that were held in Antwerp in recent years, increasing the volume of direct exports to the diamond trade hub significantly. “After the visit of DRC President, Felix Tshisekedi, in 2019, direct imports of DRC rough in Antwerp jumped from 27% of DRC’s total exported volume in 2019, to 51,5% in 2020. Renewing this MoU will allow us to continue this collaboration, including capacity building in the DRC, and facilitating sales of the country’s rough diamonds via Antwerp.”, AWDC President Chaim Pluczenik said in his speech to the delegation.

The CEEC and SAEMAPE, coordinating the DRC’s Artisanal and Small-scale Mining operations (ASM), also signed an agreement with the AWDC to support the development a “mine-to-market” pilot project, backed by (blockchain) technology, to create a fully transparent and traceable value chain for artisanal and small-scale, responsibly mined diamonds from the DRC. “Like the DRC, Antwerp is ready to move forward, building a more equitable and sustainable diamond industry, these MoU’s are a testimony to this commitment.”, Ari Epstein, CEO of the AWDC commented. Roughly 68% of the world’s ASM production is produced in the DRC and constitutes the bulk of the country’s current production volume. In the COVID-year 2020 DRC's rough diamond exports amounted to 12,7m ct valued at US$89,3m, a significant drop compared to 2019, when the country produced a little over 14m ct for a value of US$226m (KP Figures).