This essay addresses the current dynamics governing access to artisanal mineral markets in eastern Congo's two Kivu provinces, an area caught in over two decades of protracted and multi-scalar armed conflict. It examines how public authority is fragmented and (re-)shaped through transnational reform that aims at breaking the presumed link of mining and conflict, and subsequently, how emerging forms of regulation impact on the trans-local negotiation of such authority. In doing so, the essay analyses the Congolese mining administration whose claims to public authority are constrained between (mineral) tags and (rebel) guns: while transnational intervention – by way of formalising mineral markets – infringes on sovereign prerogatives, sub-national conflict concurrently undermines state capacity to govern artisanal mining and exercise public authority around the mines. Wedged between these millstones, the Congolese mining administration performs its role by operating through its very own decay, paradoxically giving room to both transnational and sub-national actors. This, in turn, even more accentuates the fragmentation of public authority through different types of conflict and collusion in a volatile institutional and regulatory space.