Environmental and social legal compliance assessment in oil, gas and mining sectors: the case of Total E & P and Metorex in Democratic Republic of Congo.
Barhasima, Makala Justin.
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Ongoing concerns regarding environmental degradation in mining, oil and gas areas, the high number of abandoned mines, oil and gas fields have highlighted the need for enhanced environmental compliance in the Extractive Industries (EI) sector. These concerns give rise to questions about the implementation and enforcement of environmental laws and standards to avoid and manage the environmental and social impacts of mining, oil and gas operations. With this in mind, this study provides a discussion on the environmental and social compliance in the oil, gas and mining sectors in the DRC, the national key environmental legislation and international standards applicable in the context of the DRC and assesses compliance with two case studies companies, namely; Total E&P, Block III and Metorex, Ruashi Mining. Having established a solid understanding of environmental and social compliance in the EI, the legal framework and standards around it, the institutions vested with their implementation and enforcement; it is important to emphasise that the DRC has made a progress in its environmental laws and standards development, but the country still faces a significant number of environmental regulatory challenges and deficiencies notably showing vague, duplicate and unclear requirements; uncertainties and institutional conflicting mandates within government environmental institutions. As a “post-conflict “country, the DRC continues to struggle to eradicate instability, repeated political crises, weak governance, mismanagement of natural resources and entrenched corruption. Ongoing fighting over the control of the DRC’s considerable mineral wealth sustains a climate of insurgencies in the eastern provinces; fuelling the country’s persistent governance crisis and limiting its governing authority. Coupled with endemic corruption and institutional lack of capacity, this situation undermines the effort of implementation and enforcement of environmental laws and international standards and ultimately weakens environmental and social compliance of the case study companies; though the case study companies are required to implement the UN guiding principles on business and human rights (UNGPS) and the OECD guidelines for multinational enterprises to achieve environmental and social compliance in their operations. In Total E&P Block III; water pollution, degradation of agricultural land, deforestation are very serious concerns, but safeguard the Virunga National Park from oil exploration is the current major concern. At Metorex Ruashi Mining, contamination of groundwater, agricultural land and air pollution, noise, destruction of private properties by explosives, insufficient to non-existent of communities’ engagement, artisanal and illegal mining issues and human right abuses are crucial non-compliance.