Friday, July 31, 2009

Coltan, et al.

Several weeks ago Simon and I were at the UNHCR. We had a chat with the security guard; Jean Pierre. Very nice guy. He had lived in South Africa and did artisinal mining with some friends. I also lived in South Africa, and am very interested in the mining in general. The latter because much has been written on how the mining of coltan, casserite and recently even charcoal fuel the current war in the east of the Congo. on casserite and coltan. on charcoal.

Last Tuesday, just before I left to Kalehe, I met up with Jean Pierre again. We visited an AIDS clinic, met his brother who works in the church and had a long talk regarding mining. This morning at 7am I picked Jean Pierre up from his nightshift at the UNHCR and joined him to his house and family where we had tea, and he gave me several precious metals. Here we go:



Grena Rouge:


And yes, coltan:

And casserite:

So, why do I have these things now? First, I am interested and probably will do a bit of research on civil wars and natural resources, so I should see what I will be writing about. But, having these metals, isn't that a bad thing, knowing that it is fuelling conflict? I gave this a bit of thought, and answer in the negative. It is artisinally mined; by Jean Pierre himself. As the aforementioned report notes:

"Global Witness is calling for actions targeted specifically at those parts of the mineral trade which are controlled by armed groups or military units and has developed the aboverecommendations with this goal in mind. A crackdown on this part of the trade would not have significant negative effects on the civilian population in the long term, as the profits currently derived from it serve primarily to enrich the elite of businessmen, the military and leaders of armed groups.

Global Witness does not take the position that mining activities in eastern DRC should cease altogether. Nor does it advocate a boycott or embargo of the trade as a whole, as such blanket measures would adversely affect the sections of the mineral trade which are not controlled by any of thewarring parties.

The aim of Global Witness’s campaign, therefore, is not to stop artisanal miners from trading, nor to close down mines in eastern DRC, but to exclude the warring parties, and their intermediaries, from the supply chain and trading networks, so that miners are able to sell only to legitimate, civilian buyers who do not have connections with any of the warring parties.Global Witness also aims to highlight, and ultimately stop, the

grave human rights abuses committed by the warring parties involved in the exploitation and trade of minerals."

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