A soon-to-be-published United Nations report on conflict-minerals mining in the DRC has—for the first time—identified a U.S. company that allegedly trades in one of the conflict minerals fueling Congo’s rebel groups.
The minerals in your cell phone have something to do with the violence in the Congo. David Sullivan, research associate with the Enough Project, explains the connection and how legislation moving through Congress aims to stop the trade in conflict minerals.
UNITED NATIONS — A Nevada-based company’s purchase of minerals looted from eastern Congo is helping to finance a decade-long war that has claimed the lives of millions of civilians, an unpublished United Nations report claims.
Niotan Inc., of Mound House, Nev., is the first American company to be identified as a buyer of conflict minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It is one of several companies cited in the U.N. study on how the illegal trade of the region’s vast mineral resources, including gold, has kept the war going by enriching both rebels and Congolese army units.
Many of the rare minerals are needed to make mobile phones and other consumer electronic devices.
WASHINGTON — In an effort to shine a light on the darkness at the heart of the world’s deadliest conflict since World War II, the Enough Project traveled to eastern Congo to better understand how the 3Ts (Tin, Tantalum, and Tungsten) and gold make their way from Congo’s killing fields to our cell phones, laptops, MP3 players and video game systems. (Read more about the first American company to be indentified, in an upcoming U.N. report, as a buyer of conflict minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo.)
What we found is that the conflict minerals supply chain is far less intimidating than the electronics industry would have consumers believe. In fact, the journey from mine to cell phone can be broken down into six major steps that make the supply chain relatively easy to understand.
Several major jewelry retailers, including Sears, Kmart and Blue Nile made a pledge last week to sell gold that has been mined and produced through humane, eco-friendly methods.
The companies all signed the No Dirty Gold campaign’s Golden Rules for sourcing gold, organized by Earthworks, a nonprofit organization.
Unlike in the diamond industry, no formal certification process exists to ensure conflict-free gold. Earthworks hopes that the No Dirty Gold coalition will help fuel the creation of such a system that “assures consumers and retailers that the gold they are buying has been produced in ways that minimize harm to people or the environment.”
On average, the production of one gold ring results in 20 tons of mine waste, according to Earthworks. Mining has also been directly linked to human rights violations, forest destruction and toxic pollution.
UNITED NATIONS -- The U.N. Security Council on Monday renewed sanctions against rebel groups in eastern Congo, despite a U.N. report that said the measures had so far failed to stop exports of gold and other minerals that have financed a decadelong war there in which millions of civilians have been killed.
Monday's resolution asks U.N. member nations to "ensure importers, processing industries and consumers of Congolese mineral products under their jurisdiction exercise due diligence on their suppliers and on the origin of the minerals they purchase."
The resolution doesn't mention any companies or countries, but the U.N. experts' report, which is to be released in the next few weeks, does. The report, which was reviewed by news organizations including The Wall Street Journal, blames Uganda, Rwanda and the United Arab Emirates for running a trading network of smuggled gold and other minerals.