Those who think that mining companies sit idly over rich resources and reap fat profits from them should think again. The obstacles to building new mines in virgin areas in politically unstable countries would deter all but the most determined, optimistic and pragmatic individuals. SA has plenty of them. Our group of five journalists took 10½ hours to travel the 3,800km from Johannesburg to the site of Alphamin Resources’ Bisie tin project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Bisie is 180km from Goma and 60km from the village of Walikali in North Kivu province. It is being developed by a team of South Africans and Congolese. Getting there is the first hurdle. The journey involved a 3½-hour flight from Johannesburg to Kigali in Rwanda, a three-hour taxi ride to the DRC border, a 30-minute charter flight from Goma to land on the road near Walikali (there is no airstrip), and a 30-minute drive along the N3 to the village of Logu. The last 32km from Logu to the mine took three hou...

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