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Friday, 15 February 2013

EU: no reaction in 'conflict minerals' in Congo

Congolese rebels are plundering the country’s natural resources to finance guns and materiel, but the EU remains powerless to compel companies to disclose whether they are buying vital minerals supplied by armed groups in Congo and other conflict states. The EU has no law to compel corporations to disclose the sources of raw materials bought in Congo to ensure that armed groups were not part of the supply chain- “It’s absolutely essential that the European Union take steps to issue a regulation that requires companies, not just from Congo but from any high-risk and conflict-affected area, to do due diligence along their supply chains,” said Sophia Pickles, a campaigner at the Global Witness, a London anti-corruption and human rights organisation.
Analysts say thefts and smuggling have grown since M23 guerrillas began an offensive 10 months ago in North Kivu and other eastern mining regions that hold abundant reserves of industrial raw materials. The well-armed M23 was formed by Congolese army defectors.
Consequently, Global Witness has urged the EU to adopt into law the voluntary conflict minerals guidelines drafted by corporations for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
The EU has promised more than €584 million in development assistance to the country over the past five years and plans another €54 million in humanitarian aid this year. In January, Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs signed a Peace and Security Framework for the Democratic Republic of Congo and neighbouring states aimed at stabilising the fragile country.
Despite its entrenched poverty and conflict, eastern Congo has abundant reserves of industrial minerals, including niobium, tantalum, tin and gold. Tantalum is a relatively rare metal that is used in electronic and computer equipment, while niobium alloys are used in jet engine production, jewellery and pipelines. There are also important diamond deposits. “The future of the world is going to be played in that region,” Jean-Paul Matuk Munan, who heads a Congolese organisation that campaigns against the small arms trade, said, adding that Congo’s resource reserves make it an important counterbalance to China for supplies of raw materials used in mobile phones, computers, jet engines and other manufactured goods.

Source: Euractiv