War in the DRC has increasingly been explained as a means to get access to natural resources and as a strategy to get control over informal trading networks linked to global markets. In most of these accounts, the complexity of war economies is underestimated. One element often missing is that systems of economic exploitation, which have been developed by armed groups during the Congolese war, tend to persist in the post-conflict context and seem to be hardly affected by the peace process.

Based on an evaluation of the case of the Congolese National Army’s (FARDC) non-integrated 85th Brigade, a former Mayi-Mayi militia now operating under the banner of the FARDC and deeply involved in the exploitation of cassiterite in Walikale (North Kivu), this paper illustrates how mechanisms of exploitation that have been instituted during the war can largely survive in peacetime conditions.