Thursday, December 06, 2012

Mining for Blood Mobile Phones

Mining for Blood Mobile Phones

Financial Times 22 November and 26 November 2012  Democratic Republic of Congo: “M23 Rebel Group capture Goma, the minerals and trading capital of Eastern Congo, “the mineral-rich East”  near the Rwandan border. The east of the country is home to vast mineral resources such as gold, tungsten and tantalum, the latter essential for computers and mobile phones. The DRC is Africa's largest producer of tin ore, the second largest copper producer after Zambia, and produces about half the world's cobalt. The east of the country is also an important source of columbite-tantalite, known as coltan, which is used in mobile phones and other electronic devices. Shares in Banro, which operates a gold mine south of Goma fell 3.6% on 21 November 2012 after sinking 13% the day before. Rwanda is allegedly backing the M23 rebels. Rwanda have extensive economic and security interests in Eastern Congo”.

The Democratic Republic of Congo is the world's largest producer of cobalt ore, a major producer of copper and industrial diamonds. 30% of the world's diamond reserves are in the Congo. Tin was discovered in 2002 in Eastern Congo.  70% of the world's reserves of coltan is also in the Congo. Coltan is the major source of tantalum which is used in the fabrication of electronic components in computers and mobile phones.  Coltan smuggling is the “blood mobile phones” which is the leading cause of conflict in Eastern Congo.

African Business magazine February 2009: estimates the total mineral wealth of the Democratic Republic of Congo as $24 trillion ! Potentially it is the richest country in the world.

In 2011, at least twenty-five international mining companies were active in the Congo. These include Anglo Gold Ashanti, BHP Billiton, Xstrata,  Anvil Mining, First Quantum Minerals, Katanga Mining (owned by Glencore) ,and Lundin Mining. In August 2012 the Chinese firm Changfa Mineral Resources acquired the Mokambo Copper mine project. Tony Blair was recently involved as a mediator in the proposed merger of Xstrata and Glencore.

The civil war in the Congo 1998-2003 is known as the Great War of Africa, it directly involved eight African nations as well as twenty five armed groups. An estimated 5.4 million people in the Congo died. Conflict in the DRC continues to this day.

The people of the Congo need world socialism now to halt the wars of capitalism over economic resources, minerals, strategic territories, and  populations. Socialism will be the establishment of a system of society based upon the common ownership and democratic control of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth by and in the interest of the whole community. Socialism will end the exploitation of the Congolese people, the killing, the disease, child labour, child soldiers, and the sexual violence to women inflicted in the Congo.

Steve Clayton

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