Principal applicable environmental laws

What are the principal environmental laws applicable to the mining industry? What are the principal regulatory bodies that administer those laws?

The DRC has ratified a few international conventions related to the protection of the environment in the mining industry such as the global standard for the good governance of oil, gas and mineral resources or the World Heritage convention.

Domestically, the Mining Code (as amended by Law No. 18/001, dated 9 March 2018) and the Mining Regulation provide for environmental measures.

Law No. 11-009, of 9 July 2011, covers the fundamental principles relating to the protection of the environment, and Decree No. 13/015, of 29 May 2013, covers installations for environmental protection. The principal regulatory body administering these laws is the department in charge of the protection of the mining environment.

Environmental review and permitting process

What is the environmental review and permitting process for a mining project? How long does it normally take to obtain the necessary permits?

An exploitation permit is subject to the approval of an environmental impact study and an environmental management plan, whereas exploration permits must be approved by a mitigation and rehabilitation plan.

Theoretically, it takes up to 30 days from the day when the request has been forwarded by the Mining Registry Office with its favourable opinion to the minister for a research permit to be issued. After this deadline, should no decision be taken, the permit is deemed granted. Similar rules apply for the granting of mining permits. In practice, it is noteworthy that the preliminary stages for collection of mandatory documents may take some time (ie, several months) and setting a timeframe can hardly be made systematic.

Closure and remediation process

What is the closure and remediation process for a mining project? What performance bonds, guarantees and other financial assurances are required?

In order to close and remediate a mining project, the permit holder will have to submit a rehabilitation plan for the site after its closure in order to be eligible for an exploitation permit. The closure of a research or exploitation centre must take place within one year and promptly notified to the mining administration. The holder of the mining rights is required to obtain a financial guarantee in an amount sufficient to carry out environmental rehabilitation. The conditions under which such guarantee must be set up are detailed in Annex II to the Mining Regulation.

Restrictions on building tailings or waste dams

What are the restrictions for building tailings or waste dams?

An emergency plan must be notified to the relevant authorities and also be made available to the neighbouring populations. To the best of our knowledge, facilities are inspected by authorities on a regular basis (ie, about once a year, at least).