As a chartered helicopter lifts off from the edge of Lake Kivu in Democratic Republic of Congo, villages and farmland quickly turn to verdant hills that stretch out as far as the eye can see. An hour of flying over dense jungle ends at a small tented camp perched on a hillside. “Welcome home,” reads a hand-painted sign.
It’s one of the few indications of the $119 million tin mine that Alphamin Resources Corp. plans to build at this site, called Bisie, on what the company says is the largest untapped deposit in the world.
“We will be the first industrial tin mine in Congo,” said Richard Robinson, managing director of Alphamin Congo, over the hum of helicopter blades. “We will double national output and can be a catalyst for economic development and stability in the whole region.”
But the site is incredibly remote: 32 kilometers (19 miles) from the nearest road and 50 kilometers from the closest “airstrip” — a long section of road where vehicles are stopped when planes land. For the past decade the area has been mined by restive local diggers controlled by armed groups. And in order to sell the tin, the company must prove its supply chain is untainted by the pockets of conflict that continue to destabilize eastern Congo…
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