Gold 'now top conflict mineral in DRC'

2012-10-25 14:09

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Goma - Gold is now the primary source of income for armed groups in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, and is ending up in jewelry stores across the world, according to a report published on Thursday by the Enough Project.

"The essential revenue for armed groups comes from gold today. Of course there are other sources like logging, but gold has become the primary source for groups like the FDLR," said Fidel Bafilemba, Enough's researcher in eastern DRC.

Because of the United States' Dodd-Frank law requiring companies to track the origin of the minerals they use, armed groups have been unable to profit from the exploitation of tin, tungsten and tantalum, and have turned instead to gold, which is easier to smuggle across borders.

"Gold is very portable, you can put it in your pocket and it is easily smuggled across the border. You don't need a large quantity to make a lot of money," said an anti-fraud agent of the border custom in Goma, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.

Roughly $30 000 worth of gold can fit in a pocket and around $700 000 in a briefcase, estimates The Enough Project, the rights group that specializes in conflict minerals in Congo and Sudan.

While only 23kg of gold were officially exported from eastern Congo in the first half of 2012, 2 tons to 4 tons of gold went out through illegal routes, according to the report.

As a result, the illegal gold trade represents lost revenues of hundreds of millions of dollars for the Congolese state every year, preventing the local population from benefiting from the country's natural resources.

Illegal trade

Instead armed groups are profiting from the illegal trade, through taxation and coercion.

"If you drive from Walikale [a major minerals centre] to Goma, you have to pass three different checkpoints. You have to pay the [Rwandan Hutu Democratic Forces], you have to pay the [former National Congress for the Defence of the People], and you have to pay the army. You have to pay all, or they will kill you," says Willy, a minerals transporter quoted by Enough.

On top of supplying the funds for armed groups to buy weapons and ammunition, the illegal gold trade is a source of violence in itself, as armed groups fight each other for control of mines.

The M23, a rebel group that formed in April and May following the defection of high ranking officers from the Congolese army, is trying to gain control of the Rubaya gold mine in Masisi, according to Enough.

One of the M23 leaders, General Bosco Ntaganda used to run an illegal mineral trade network when he was in the Congolese army, making millions of dollars each year from mines including Rubaya, according to the report.

Working conditions in the mines are dreadful as a result of the violence surrounding the trade and the complete absence of regulation.

The miners, 40 percent of whom are children according to the advocacy group, work in extreme conditions, with crude equipment such as pick-axes and shovels.

In Nyabibwe, a cassiterirte mine where conditions are similar to those in gold mines, miners go down tunnels without any safety net.

Greatest danger

"With time, we actually forget about the dangers, even though they are real," says Bisima, a 33-year-old miner working at the Nyabibwe pit. "Mine collapse remains the greatest danger."

In August, 60 people died in a gold mine which collapsed in Pangoyi, Ituri Province.

The gold from eastern DRC is smuggled across the border to Uganda, Burundi or Tanzania where it is absorbed in the local trade and then sent to major world markets, states the report.

Uganda produced only $167m worth of gold in the past three years, but exported an estimated $212m, according to statistics cited by Enough.

"They [the government] like the chaos. It's what allows the officers to get a cut from the trade," said a former Ugandan mining official quoted by Enough.

Uganda was accused in a recent United Nations report of supporting the M23 rebellion in eastern DRC. The Ugandan government strongly denies the allegations.

- AP
Read more on:    m23  |  drc  |  central africa
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Motoring
 

Hottie of the day: Nicole Meyer!

Nicole is the cover girl for the 2014 edition of SA Swimsuit! Check out some smoking hot pics of here here.

 
 

Men24.com

11 things men don’t know about their clothes
Hilarious mortal kombat elevator prank!
This is how the Top Gear presenters spend their £55 million!
Thirty and still single? There’s hope!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Save up to 60% on toys!

Don’t miss out on this hot offer, save up to 60% on toys. While stocks last. Shop now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 35% off books

Save up to 35% on the latest page-turners. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

It may be hard to stay cool, calm and collected. Your emotions can get quite heated in the moment. You may benefit from finding a...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.