News / Africa

DRC: Mined Metals Conflict-Free

A piece of malachite, a copper ore, is seen at the bottom of Congolese state mining company Gecamines' Kamfundwa open pit copper mine, Jan. 31, 2013.
A piece of malachite, a copper ore, is seen at the bottom of Congolese state mining company Gecamines' Kamfundwa open pit copper mine, Jan. 31, 2013.
Nick Long
Africa's Great Lakes region has gotten a reputation in recent years as a source of so-called conflict minerals - ore and extracted metals like tin and tantalum that are sold or taxed by rebel groups. But now the region's biggest producer, the Democratic Republic of Congo, is saying the problem is largely over and most of its production can be labelled conflict-free.

In case they don’t hear the cock crow, the citizens of Rubaya in North Kivu are awakened nearly every morning by the loudspeakers of this evangelist preacher.

It’s a mining town, where people like to get to work early, and these days they need to, if they are to scrape together a living.

Mining here is not industrialized. Instead, earth containing tin and tantalum ore is dug out of the hills with hoes and spades and then washed in muddy brown streams.
 
Jean Ngarukirifura, head of a team of diggers at Rubaya, said there are no armed groups or military involved in these mines, but still, demand for their product is low.  He said he doesn’t know why.
 
Demand for Rubaya’s product has been low since legislation was passed by the United States Congress that aimed to cut the link between Congo’s armed groups and the trade in tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold.
 
The Dodd Frank Act, passed in 2010, requires U.S. listed companies using those minerals to state whether they have come from the Congo, and if so, what steps have been taken to ensure they did not fund conflict.
 
Since the act was passed, the prices for the DRC’s tin and tantalum have fallen by more than half while world prices have held steady.
 
But some Congolese think the blow to its exports has been worth it because of the other effects of the act.
 
Prince Kihangi is head of the North Kivu Civil Society Association’s working group on mining. He said the number of armed groups in the province has gone down in the past two years because the Dodd Frank Act has cut their funding.
 
The North Kivu provincial minister for mines, Jean Ruyange Njongo, said the involvement of armed groups have declined so much that the bigger mines in North Kivu’s Walikale territory - where most of the province’s minerals are located - could now be certified as conflict-free.
 
He said, "Today you can go to Walikale and walk around those mining sites, and you will see there are practically no problems there of conflict or of armed groups."
 
The United Nations stabilization mission in the Congo, MONUSCO, confirmed to VOA that in recent months there has been little activity by armed groups in Walikale and the army has driven them out of the main mining areas.  
 
Prince Kihangi agreed with the minister that now is the time to relaunch mining in Walikale.
 
But international buyers will take some convincing. A spokesperson for the tin industry association ITRI, Kay Nimmo, said buyers are just not interested in North Kivu because they think there is still too much conflict there.
 
Fidel Bafilemba, a researcher with the pressure group the Enough Project - which campaigns on the conflict minerals issue - agreed with that analysis.

If ITRI is not active in North Kivu, he said, it is simply because of security issues.
 
Minister Ruyange said this is not logical, as ITRI is operating in South Kivu at a site closer to the M23, the most powerful rebel group in the Kivus.
 
He blamed the media for giving what he calls a false impression that North Kivu is overrun by armed groups.

You May Like

Photogallery US Nurse ‘Cured of Ebola,’ NIH Says

Nina Pham, Texas nurse who treated first Ebola patient in US, received no experimental drugs; WHO expects vaccine surge in 2015 More

Video Islamic State Militants Encroach on Baghdad

Iraqi capital not under ‘imminent threat,’ US military says, amid worries about foothold More

Video Hong Kong Protesters Focus on Holding Volatile Mong Kok

Activists say holding Mong Kok is key to their movement's success, despite confrontations with angry residents and police More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid