The Great Lakes Region and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), in particular, are characterized by an abundance of natural resources, including significant deposits of gold, cobalt, copper, diamonds, tantalum, and tin. However, the potential of these resources to effectively contribute to economic growth and sustainable development has remained untapped. Working with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Tetra Tech is strengthening the capacity of national and regional actors in the conflict-free minerals supply chain.

The DRC is plagued by limited security, governance, rule of law, and economic opportunity. A debilitating colonial past, followed by decades of debilitating dictatorship, two civil wars, and continued transboundary tensions, has left the nation in a fragile state of post-conflict transition.

Economic insecurity induces a range of actors to turn to artisanal mining to support basic livelihood needs and illicit activities. Although minerals have played a critical role in fueling conflict and instability in the region, large-scale and artisanal mining are vital to the DRC’s economy, local livelihoods, and economic growth in the region.

Through USAID’s Capacity Building for Responsible Minerals Trade (CBRMT) project, Tetra Tech is scaling up conflict-free mineral certification/traceability systems in the region and strengthening the capacity of those involved at the national and regional levels. We are helping governments to reform their legal and policy frameworks to support a responsible, economically productive small-scale and artisanal mining sector.

One objective is to increase links with the private sector to transform the region’s mineral wealth into a foundation for economic growth and development, thereby reducing resource vulnerability to exploitation and smuggling. Our approach addresses the root causes of localized resource disputes and helps to nurture a foundation for secure property rights. 

Tetra Tech is collaborating with relevant government authorities, donors, the private sector, and civil society in five provinces. Our approach is premised on building the groundwork for secure land and mineral resource rights. We are taking specific actions to differentiate the roles, benefits, impacts, and risks attributed to men, women, and youth in the artisanal and small-scale mining sector. We are helping to strengthen private-sector confidence in the region’s minerals trade and build stronger linkages between large-scale and artisanal mining. Our approach also includes campaigns, training, and technical assistance. Because scaling up mine sites might have the unintended effect of attracting opportunistic actors, we mitigate these risks.