Steps towards mineral certification in the DRC

The Wilson Center held an interesting event last week on steps towards the development of a certification process for conflict-free minerals in the DRC, with representatives from an admirably broad variety of interest groups participating in the discussion.  (This included representatives of the US and Congolese governments, one of the negotiators of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, an industry CSR type, and researchers from the Enough Project.)  Undersecretary of State for Economic, Energy & Agricultural Affairs Robert Hormats briefly discussed one of the most substantive steps that I’ve yet heard of towards an actual certification process, namely a USG-funded pilot supply chain of certified minerals.  A common concern, however, was that these early moves towards reopening clean supply chains aren’t enough to mitigate for the damage done to the industry (and the incomes of its artisanal miners) by the Dodd-Frank act and the mining ban instituted by the Congolese government last fall.  According to Tim Monin, the director of CSR at Advanced Micro Devices, the volume of trade has fallen by more than 90% since this time last year.  It’s not clear to me what, if anything, is being done to assist displaced miners until trade picks up again (or until they find alternate employment – always a scarce commodity in the Congo).

3 thoughts on “Steps towards mineral certification in the DRC

  1. Nice blog Rachel.

    I believe that the issue in the East of DRC is not an issue of minerals. The rebel groups present use mineral to survive and they will find something else to live on if this source runs dry. The real issue is a security issue: 1 – the presence of rebel groups from foreign countries in DRC (Rwandans, Ugandans, Sudanese and possibly Burundians)
    2- The inability of the Congolese leadership to reform the army and the security services which enables those gangsters to roam freely and commit murders, rape and smuggle minerals.
    This certification process will cause Western companies to shy away altogether from DRC minerals because they wouldn’t want to risk having bad press. DRC has large reserve of Coltan but is not a major producer the main producers are: Canada, Brazil, Australia, Indonesia.
    I don’t understand the IC objectives (thru Monusco) in DRC, they put too little resources towards taking care of the problems (rebels) and frankly are helping or forcing the Congolese government in making huge mistake… One of the mistake is the so called mixing of the so ‘called army groups’. Those thugs and kids should have been demobilized, trained in some type of trade and sent back in civilian life instead we created an army of former rebels that do not obey their former foes and who constantly defy orders, desert the barracks and commit crime.


  2. The answer to “what’s being done to help the miners” is virtually nothing. It’s tragic and ridiculous, especially considering that this problem was completely predictable.


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