Wednesday, September 25, 2013

the curse of the Congo

In Congo's northeast, an estimated 70,000 to 100,000 people, including some 10,000 children, mine gold using nothing more than hand tools—and often literally by hand. But their scrappy livelihood may be coming to an end soon. Several foreign concerns, including a subsidiary of AngloGold Ashanti, the world's third-largest gold-mining firm, recently cut deals with the Congolese government to take over the region's lucrative mining operations.

In neighboring Tanzania, AngloGold Ashanti mined $1.5 billion worth of gold from 2000 to 2007, but only 9 percent of that money stayed behind as taxes and royalties. In the meantime, the firm's top shareholder—hedge fund billionaire John Paulson—lives on New York's Upper East Side and summers in the Hamptons.

 Congo has virtually no public health system. AngloGold Ashanti, which has spent millions of dollars prospecting in this desperately poor area—and plans to extract billions in gold—has made only small contributions to a local hospital, schools, and a soccer tournament. "Nothing has been done," complains a local chief.

"We wouldn't have so much trouble if we weren't so rich."  is a common sentiment in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Congo's people are desperately poor—not in spite of, but largely because of their nation's fabulous resource wealth.

No comments: