Voices from DRC on conflict minerals

REPORT | 13 October 2010
Photo: IPIS

In the Eastern DRC, the conflict between the Congolese army and rebel groups continues to cause suffering for local people. At the same time tin, coltan, wolframite and gold for home electronics are extracted in the same area.

Electronics companies and other actors are currently active in many different initiatives focusing on curbing the link between the conflict and the mineral trade. Today makeITfair is publishing a report that shows that these efforts are very necessary, however it also highlights that local organisations feel they are not involved properly and they do not want the situation to lead to a boycott.

The consumer electronics industry utilises a significant proportion of the global supply of several metals that are essential parts of mobile phones, computers and game consoles. One of the most serious sustainability issues is when mineral extraction finances conflicts such as in the current situation in Eastern DRC.

makeITfair has worked since 2007 to convince the electronics industry to shoulder their shared responsibility for this issue, and has asked the major consumer electronics brands and end-users of minerals – Motorola, Intel, Sony Ericsson, Nokia and HP among others – to take action.

The mining sector in Eastern DRC is of utmost importance to the local people since it brings income and necessities. A legally-operated, civil mining sector also has the potential to help stabilise the region. Recently, numerous efforts and initiatives ranging from legislation to certification have focused on the link between the conflict and the trade in minerals from Eastern DRC. The makeITfair project, however, deplores the lack of communication with local stakeholders when formulating what should be done.

The report entitled ‘Voices from the inside’ presents local views on mining reform in Eastern DRC. Although civil society groups welcome policy makers who are trying to ‘clean up’ the mining business in Eastern DRC, they want to have a stronger voice in the debate and more input into the initiatives that are currently taking shape.

Made in collaboration with: makeITfair