The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has revoked the approval of what it claims to be the country’s first gold refinery in South Kivu, reported Reuters, citing documents from national and provincial authorities.

The refinery is being built by Congo Gold Raffinerie (CGR) in the eastern city of Bukavu and was due to be launched this week.

The refinery is designed to produce two tonnes of gold per month using ore from artisanal mines in South Kivu.

DRC Mines Minister Antoinette N’Samba Kalambayi was cited by Bloomberg News as saying that the company’s permit has been suspended as it “did not respect its societal obligations”.

Earlier this week, the minister said in a decree the company had “forfeited its approval” as a processing entity.

Both CGR and the ministry have confirmed the issued decree.

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By GlobalData

Commenting on the decree, CGR said the licence suspension would impact jobs.

A CGR spokesperson told Reuters: “We don’t understand, the specifications apply to mining entities that have an operating licence, we’re not an operating company.

“We were due to open today and a lot of jobs are at risk.”

According to the mine ministerial decree, the company can appeal the decision in a period of 30 days.

In 2022, the Congolese Government granted exclusive export rights to a joint venture with the Abu Dhabi-based Primera Group for artisanal gold produced from the eastern parts of the country for the next 25 years.

The move, however, triggered criticism from civil society organisations, which warned the Congolese Government against creating a monopoly.