By Melissa Pistilli—Exclusive to Tantalum investing News
With respect to companies that are responsible for what are now being called conflict minerals, I think the international community must start looking at steps we can take to try to prevent the mineral wealth from the DRC ending up in the hands of those who fund the violence here. —U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
The phrase “conflict minerals” is quickly becoming a much more familiar term as concerned consumers, organizations and politicians begin to raise public awareness of the role the mineral trade plays in fuelling the violence raging in the eastern provinces of the DR Congo.
While the “conflict” in the Congo has been labeled a war, Enough Project Co-Founder John Prendergast recently said it’s actually more “a business based on violent extortion.” Prendergast appropriately dubs it a “mafia-style economy.”
Unfortunately, it is not just the FDLR militia or the Congolese army who profit from this violent business of forced labor and institutionalized rape. Also profiting are the governments of the Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda as well as the companies that purchase and refine the metals, those that fabricate electronic components such as tantalum capacitors, and those that produce electronic devices like cell phones and laptops.
As controversy over conflict gold and dirty mining escalates, ethical issues are becoming as important for gold as they are for diamonds.
By Rob Bates, Senior Editor -- JCK Online, 3/1/2010 12:00:00 AM
Issue 1: Conflict Gold
Background The conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo has had a higher profile ever since Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's trip to that country last summer. The ongoing war there is considered one of the world's worst, with gruesome reports of rape, sexual violence, and other atrocities. Until now, activists who charge that conflict minerals are funding Congo unrest have focused mostly on minerals used in electronics, rather than gold. But Sasha Lezhnev, of the Enough Project, said that's changing. "Gold is increasing as a problem as its price goes up," he told JCK. He said gold is now the second-biggest contributor to Congo unrest after tin.
Recent news60 Minutes in late November ran a story explicitly linking gold jewelry to the Congo war. Lezhnev said his group plans to survey the major jewelry chains and sellers about how they source their gold. A bill about conflict minerals is under consideration by Congress, but it doesn't mention gold.
The future Lezhnev said conflict-mineral activists would like to see a "Kimberley Process for gold," but some Kimberley Process veterans say that's unlikely. "People use the term 'Kimberley Process' without really knowing what that is," says Jewelers of America chairman Matthew A. Runci. "It's an open question whether that kind of approach can be developed for gold." He said his group is now meeting with gold miners and NGOs to discuss possible solutions. In any event, major companies will be under pressure to show a traceable supply chain.
Thu, Feb 25, 2010
By Melissa Pistilli—Exclusive to Tantalum Investing News
Apple recently published a report on their site addressing how the global powerhouse is taking the responsibility to pressure its suppliers to not only treat their employees fairly, but also ensure conflict minerals are not a part of their products.
The report details a “Supplier Code of Conduct” to which companies are required to adhere as a condition of their contract. The Code deals with such issues as labour, human rights and ethical standards. Compliance is managed “through a rigorous monitoring program” of “factory audits, corrective action plans, and verification measures.”
The Apple report speaks directly to the problems associated with conflict tantalum in its supply chains, saying the company requires its tantalum capacitor suppliers to certify that the materials they use “have been produced through a socially and environmentally responsible process.”
Like Hewlett Packard and many other technology-producing companies, Apple maintains that “the combination of a lengthy supply chain and a refining process makes it difficult to track and trace tantalum from the mine to finished products—a challenge that Apple and others are tackling in a variety of ways.”
However, the United Nations and NGO’s such as Global Witness and the Enough Project have proven otherwise.
The world knows Iman as a supermodel, a successful businesswoman with her own cosmetics company and as a fashion icon alongside her husband David Bowie.
That’s only half the story. Iman also is a refugee whose family fled war in Somalia. In this exclusive interview in honor of International Women’s Day, Iman shares her incredible story of leaving Somalia for Kenya, being discovered by a fashion photographer, and finding global fame.
On International Women’s Day, as we celebrate the achievements of women and raise awareness of ongoing injustices against women, Iman’s success story is poignant, especially in light of the causes she fights for.
"Iman has been a fierce advocate for the rights of women and children in Africa and around the world. Her own experience as a refugee and a mother has deepened her commitment to contributing to a world where violence against women and girls is one day a thing of the past," notes Enough Project Co-Founder John Prendergast.
Iman is a Global Ambassador for Keep a Child Alive, raising awareness and funds to help African families affected by HIV/AIDS.
She was instrumental in the campaign against blood diamonds, terminating her contract with diamond giant DeBeers in protest over the diamond industry’s abuses in Africa.
Iman is speaking up for the Congo as well, helping the Enough Project’s “Raise Hope for Congo” campaign spread the word about the new blood diamonds: “conflict minerals” from the Congo.
As Iman and John discuss in the video, the deadliest war in the world is raging in the Congo right now. Over five million people have died, but that’s just part of the horror.
John Prendergast talks to Iman in her New York City office. (Photo: Robert Padavick/Enough)
Congo is the world’s most dangerous place for women and girls. Armed groups are using mass rape as a tactic of war as they compete to control Congo’s lucrative mineral wealth: tin, tantalum, tungsten (the “three Ts”) and gold.
Why are these minerals so coveted?
Cell phones, laptops, digital cameras and other devices wouldn’t work them. Armed groups make an estimated $150 million yearly from the conflict minerals trade. It’s a simple supply and demand equation, and it’s fueling the worst violence since the Holocaust.
The good news is, we have the power to help end it.
We as consumers must speak up and demand that the top electronics companies produce conflict-free products. By removing conflict minerals from the equation in Congo, we remove the fuel from the fire.
Last week, I traveled to the University of Richmond (UR) to perform my spoken word poetry and hip-hop on the Congo. Getting people like these students thinking about how Congo is part of them is proof positive that the movement we’re building for Congo is on the right track, and we must continue spreading the word. Read More »
The Lord’s Resistance Army continues to pose a severe threat to civilians in Democratic Republic of the Congo. Since the LRA began attacking civilians on Congolese soil in September of 2008 through the end of 2009, it has killed approximately 1,800 civilians.
A new report released by Global Witness details the challenges posed by resource-fueled conflicts to the United Nation’s peace efforts around the world, dedicating a hard-hitting segment to Congo. Read More »
It has now been more than 100 hours since a team of young U.S. activists, inspired to help stop the brutal Lord’s Resistance Army in Central Africa, descended on the Oklahoma City office of Senator Tom Coburn (R) to demand that he lift his hold on a bill aimed at neutralizing the LRA fighters and rebuilding communities long terrorized by the insurgency. Read More »
If you’ve read Adam Hochschild’s eye-opening and masterful King Leopold’s Ghost, you’ll probably have the same reaction I had when an advance copy of his newest article, “Blood and Treasure,” came across my desk: Stop multitasking and dedicate full attention to Hochschild’s piece. Read More »