M23 Rebels Capture Rubaya, a Key Coltan Mining Town in DR Congo

The M23 rebels have seized Rubaya, a major mining area in Eastern DRC.

Located in Bahunde, Masisi Territory, North Kivu province, Rubaya boasts vast deposits of coltan used for producing batteries for electric cars and cellphones.

The rebels captured the town on Tuesday night after intense fighting with government forces.

M23’s political leader, Bertrand Bisiimwa said the rebel movement, which has in recent months captured large swathes of land from government forces, “has no desire to take possession of the mining deposits in this locality.”

Bisiimwa claimed the area was home to a training facility for armed groups which have been planning attacks against civilians.

“On Tuesday, our forces came under attack from the enemy’s heavy army and infantry in Mishaki, Karuba, Kagundi and surrounding areas,” claimed Bisiimwa, adding, “Our forces responded in self-defence.”

The rebels asked the “operators of the Rubaya mining deposit to continue their activities quietly because this site is not a military objective.”

DRC accuses Rwanda of aiding M23 rebels to plunder the country’s vast mineral wealth, claims Kigali denies.

Location of Rubaya in DRC (courtesy)

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The seizure of Rubaya comes just weeks after Kinshasa’s lawyers accused US tech giant Apple of using illegally mined minerals in their products, minerals that were alleged to be extracted from Congolese mines, transported and then laundered mainly via Rwanda.

It is alleged these activities finance armed groups in eastern DRC.

Rwanda speaks out

In March 2023, Kagame dismissed claims that his government has been supporting M23 rebels to destabilize the mineral-rich eastern part of DR Congo to plunder the vast country’s natural wealth including coltan and gold.

Kagame said Rwanda has huge deposits of coltan, a mineral refined to tantalum powder to make heat-resistant capacitors in laptops, cellphones, and other high-end electronic devices globally.

“We have some minerals – coltan which they talk about – we have a lot of coltan,” Kagame said last year, adding, “the purity of Rwanda’s coltan is about 60% while DRC’s is about 20-30%.”

He further said those accusing Rwanda of invading Congo to steal minerals “are looking for excuses to run away from their problems.”

ChimpReports understands that as of Thursday morning, the M23 rebels had advanced into other areas after the capture of Rubaya including Mululu, Runigi and Ngungu in Masisi territory.