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U.S. Company Linked To Congo Conflict Minerals

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U.S. Company Linked To Congo Conflict Minerals

Posted by Eileen White Read on December 4, 2009

U.S. Company Linked To Congo Conflict Minerals

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.

An article on the news site Global Post, by veteran reporter Joe Lauria, cites the U.N. study’s disclosure that Niotan Inc., located in Mound House, Nevada, “buys and sells the mineral coltan, used to make electrolytic capacitors for mobile phones and personal computers. The report details a four-step process by which the minerals move from the killing hills of eastern Congo to American electronics manufacturers."

Coltan, or tantalum, from Congo makes up between 15% and 25% of the world’s annual consumption of the mineral. The other conflict minerals mined in Congo and traded on the black market include tin, tungsten, and gold.

“Niotan,” the article says, “buys from three war-zone suppliers — Chinese-run Huaying Trading Company (HTC), Bukavu-based World Mining Company (WMC), and Etablissement Muyeye, one of the biggest minerals trading houses in Bukavu (Congo). These groups get their minerals from areas of South Kivu province controlled by the FDLR rebel group, the report says.” The Congo traders sell their minerals to Hong Kong-based African Ventures Ltd., which is run by a director of Niotan, John Crawley. Crawley didn’t return Lauria’s phone calls seeking a comment.

Click here for an op-ed by John Prendergast on Global Post that traces the international conflict minerals supply chain from mines to mobile phones and other electronics.

Click here to listen to Enough Research Associate David Sullivan’s interview with New York public radio station WNYC’s Brian Lehrer on the new U.N. report and Niotan’s alleged role in the coltan trade.


Photo: Gold powder. (Grassroots Reconciliation Group/Sasha Lezhnev)