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Thousands of ex-fighters are mining Mongwalu area to stop AngloGold´s plans in Congo.

Photo Credit to Bloomberg.

On Monday, AngloGold Ashanti said  its Mongbwalu gold mine in Democratic Republic of Congo DRC  faces the obstacle of tens of thousands of  former fighters that are already mining the area who do not want to leave.

AngloGold plans to start Mongbwalu output late next year, said Richard Peattie, general manager of the Mongbwalu project.

This project will become the world’s third-biggest mining firm and the initiative is partnered with Congo’s government to build the industrial gold mine in a vast zone deep in the hills of Ituri.

Ituri is a district in Congo DRC that are still recovering from a bloody ethnic conflict that ended in 2003.

As many as 200 000 artisanal miners, mostly ex-combatants from the ethnic conflict, have set up operations in the 6 000 square km concession. Some of the former combatants are well organized, having teams and machinery to crush and sift through rock.

Many forme fighters are making USD 1500 a month , a considerable sum in a country ranked as one of the poorest and least developed in the world. Due to this situation, almost no former fighter wants to leave the region in favor of AngloGold.  The fighters are afraid of loosing everything.

AngloGold, with experience in “resolving” tricky problems with communities around its global operations, acknowledges it will need to negotiate with the artisanal miners and former fighters.

AngloGold also has a forty five percent stake in a joint venture with Randgold and the Congolese DRC authorities in the Kibali mine project, which has probable reserves of more than 10-million ounces and is also expected to start producing by end of 2013. Kibali is also experiencing problems with rebels from Rwanda.