Country Listing

Zaire Table of Contents



Gold is found in minable quantities in various locations in eastern Zaire. Three companies have been involved in gold production: the Kilo-Moto Gold Mine Board (Office des Mines d'Or de Kilo-Moto--Okimo), which has the main gold mine Sominki, and Gécamines. In addition, artisanal gold mining, legalized in 1983, has long been substantial. Official gold receipts dropped in the early 1990s because of smuggling and looting from industrial production sites, as well as extensive smuggling of artisanal production into neighboring countries. The Okimo and Sominki mines are located in isolated areas, where smuggling and looting are relatively easy and transport and resupply difficult. Artisanal producers have consistently chosen to smuggle out their production rather than accept the lower prices paid by the official purchasing counters (comptoirs).

Together the Okimo and Sominki mines accounted for nearly half of official gold exports, or about 900 kilograms out of the more than 2,000 kilograms that were officially exported in 1988. Of the 1988 total, Okimo produced about 260 kilograms of gold; Sominki produced approximately 625 kilograms; and individual artisanal producers accounted for 1,212 kilograms (Gécamines's production was negligible). In 1988 Okimo awarded contracts worth US$14 million to a Brazilian firm and the United States subsidiary of a British firm for rehabilitation of two potentially highly productive mines. These contracts were expected to result in increased output in the 1990s, but in fact production continued to drop as the economy deteriorated. Production was estimated at only 225 kilograms in 1990.

Data as of December 1993