Artisanal Mining Initiative Strengthens Sustainable Supply Chain in Democratic Republic of the Congo


The Commercially Viable Conflict-Free Gold Project (CVCFG) is a five-year project funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by Global Communities in partnership with Levin Sources and sub-awardees Better Chain and RCS Global Upstream Ltd. Its overall objective is to create a sustainable, commercially viable, responsibly sourced artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) gold supply chain originating from eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The $11.9 million program uses a private sector-centric approach to address downstream and upstream challenges to achieve a sustainable, responsibly-sourced ASM gold supply-chain originating in eastern DRC.

The ASM gold supply chain is beset with challenges, relying on donor resources to address persistent weaknesses in the chain. CVCFG builds on the prior donor-funded responsible minerals trade (RMT) successes, adding components, expertise and private sector resources to hopefully break current ASM supply chain barriers in eastern DRC.

The CVCFG consortium, led by Global Communities, works across all major nodes of the ASM gold supply chain, addressing barriers to sustainability and scalability of a legitimate ASM supply chain. Levin Sources leads activities designed to engage and improve visibility among key downstream actors to expand purchase of/co-investment in responsibly-sourced gold from DRC. Newly acquired due diligence and traceability support partners Better Chain and RCS Global Upstream Ltd, are working with local cooperatives to strengthen their ability to comply with traceability and due diligence requirements. Global Communities is strengthening ASM cooperatives' business operations and governance to ensure their sustainability and improve returns to members through application of a more inclusive business model.


Photo by Global Communities Democratic Republic of Congo

Mine site scoring and selection process

In order to roll out a standardized approach for the identification and selection of sites and cooperatives with which the program will engage, the CVCFG consortium developed a mine site scoring and selection process. This three-phase process includes: 1) an initial desk review of publicly available data; 2) the completion of site and market systems evaluations at longlisted sites; and 3) the development of Site Selection Scorecards for review with USAID and key government stakeholders at the Site Selection Concurrence Meeting. This process has allowed site selection to be conducted in a transparent and consistent way that encourages early risk identification, mitigation and management.


Establishing a community of potential gold buyers

As CVCFG works to build downstream demand for responsibly sourced artisanal gold from Eastern DRC, the project has developed a platform to allow for continued engagement from potential buyers. This platform has taken the form of a Community of Practice of Refiners, which launched in September 2020. Through this channel, the project has the opportunity to deepen its understanding of buyers' interests and requirements, while also providing refiners with a forum for discussion and, eventually, a chance to buy gold from the responsible supply chains supported by CVCFG.


Photo by Global Communities Democratic Republic of Congo

Outcomes from COVID-19 Learning Brief

Given the fluid situation as the world contends with the economic and social impacts of COVID-19, the team saw a need to quickly reassess various risks to the program in this new reality. The approach to risk management planning is one that evolves with project implementation, and one that is adapted upon review each year of project implementation. This is given the highly volatile nature of the project activity (facilitating trade in precious metals) in an area that is affected by conflict, Ebola and COVID-19.


Bringing on new partners to manage due diligence necessary for responsible gold exports

In May 2020, CVCFG welcomed two new partners to the consortium: Better Chain and RCS Global Upstream Ltd. Both organizations have expertise in the due diligence processes required to support responsible minerals trade, as well as technologies to help establish the chain of custody for minerals from site to export.

With the support of these two organizations, the CVCFG consortium has begun examining and testing two different approaches to carrying out due diligence from the initial site scoping phase to ongoing risk identification and mitigation.

Consortium members:

  • Global Communities
  • Levin Sources
  • Better Chain
  • RCS Global Upstream Ltd

Story by Amy Levey