Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Blood Gold in DRC

60 Minutes reports. Congo to Uganda to Dubai to, possibly, your computers and cell phones.

Tiffany is the only company that currently traces its gold to make sure it does not come from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Wal-Mart, the largest gold retailer, plans to trace 10% of its gold by next year.

HT: Africa is a country

Update: Texas in Africa has this to say about the video and the lack of hard scientific evidence that minerals are causing rape:
Why don't I believe this? Because there's no data showing that the mineral trade is the primary cause of violence in the eastern Congo. It's just not there. There are anecdotal accounts and reports on the mineral supply chains and reports on the horrific conditions in the mines. There are somewhat bizarre journalistic accounts like last week's 60 Minutes piece, which misled viewers into thinking that a gold pit in the largely peaceful Ituri district is at the epicenter of the current fighting.
The point of the video, though, that groups who are using the minerals to fund the conflict would have to find another source of funding if gold merchants traced their records and avoided purchases that could not be traced to legitimate sources, is still valid.

Tex's point is valid also:
For one thing, there are large tracts of extremely fertile, hotly contested land whose status has been disputed by members of competing ethnic groups for decades. The Masisi region's volcanic soil is capable of producing up to three harvests per year, and North Kivu's varied climate is ideal for cattle ranching and dairy farming. There is money to be made in rural North Kivu. People were killing each other over the rights to this land before the wars and before mining was even a concern. Mobutu used North Kivu's land as an instrument of patronage; everyone from the Catholic Church to prominent politicians of whichever ethnic group was in his good graces at the time got a piece of land in exchange for loyalty to the regime. Under the RDC-Goma rebel government, land in Masisi and elsewhere was given to prominent Tutsis as a reward for supporting the regime and a means of securing Tutsi control of the region. When the Tutsis lost power, many also lost their land. ... In other words, it's much more complicated than just the mineral trade. Which is why the argument that shutting down the mines will end all of this violence is fundamentally flawed. It is, quite frankly, based on incorrect assumptions and a lack of rigorously-analyzed evidence.

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