The Burglars Of Congo’s Natural Resources (Pt 1)

Child Labor in The Democratic Republic of Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s Natural Resources,  Cobalt, Coltan, Copper, Gold, diamonds, to name it but a few. The mines of the country are full of precious metals. Which triggers double looting: the first among the multinationals with the support of the government of Kinshasa, the second of fraud, by thousands of people, miner trigger, and smugglers. 

The wealth of this land is a curse that has always attracted thieves from all over the world. The gold of the Congo flies away from the mines by helicopter, passes the border stealthily, on small boats along the rivers, in clandestine trucks, or hidden in the pockets of smugglers. Someone takes him away, and the Congolese live in poverty. Ever since the days of Leopold II, king of Belgium, he made it a possession to be exploited on a personal basis.

It is a silent swindler that has been going on for decades and concerns all the natural resources of which the country is prosperous: cobalt, copper, uranium, gold, and diamonds, but also copper and coltan.

That of the Congo is one of the biggest frauds in the world: A real geological scandal”, An immense wealth whose ultimate beneficiaries are always the same: we Westerners, or better, the fatty part of the world population, which uses these precious metals obtained at low cost to make very high profits. Meanwhile, Congo remains one of the poorest and underdeveloped on the planet. More than 80% of Congolese people live on less than $1.25 a day, defined as the threshold for extreme poverty

In the east of the country, in the south and north Kivu, the phenomenon is at its maximum expression because several armed gangs are still operating, and because there are borders with Rwanda, Burundi, and Uganda, the destination of most of the illegally exported minerals. “These countries have export data much higher than the real mineral resources, thanks to the smuggling that increases month by month,” explains Kajembe.

In Kivu, gold, cassiterite, from which tin is obtained  and coltan are extracted, from which tantalum is extracted which is an essential component for the production of new technologies, from mobile phones to computers, from video games to DVDs: according to estimates, Congo would have between 64 and 80 percent of the world’s coltan reserves. An inexhaustible source of income, except that this is all brought to Rwanda.

From neighboring countries, illegal minerals branch out through international buyers to companies across the world: such as the Traxys group, which trades in metals and is in Luxembourg or the Belgian Trademet. Intermediaries who sell minerals to multinationals, thus managing to “clean them up.” So everyone, directly or indirectly, buying minerals from others or extracting them in person, gets their hands on the assets of the Congo, starting with great powers like the United States and Canada, present with dozens of companies. Or England, which has companies based in the Virgin Islands such as Garrett Holding Ltd and Sandro Resources Ltd., but there is also Belgium, a former colonial power, which is losing market share, and there is Malaysia, with Malaysia Smelting Corp, the third company in the world in the production of tin, which imports cassiterite from northern Kivu.

The Wealth of a land That has always attracted Smugglers worldwide.
Blood Diamonds

Then came India and above all China, which in 2009 closed with the government of President Kabila a super contract for which it offers 6 billion in infrastructure investments in exchange for concessions for 10 million tons of copper and 400 thousand of cobalt in the State of Katanga. The Chinese agreement, unprecedented in scope, has raised controversy to no end by bringing attention to one of the central problems of mining affairs in the Congo: for many, in fact, the government of Kabila would be selling off wealth in exchange for too-poor gains for the population, which remains very poor. The money, due to corruption, would stop at the circle of power in Kinshasa.

Janvier Kilosho has been studying the mining issue for the Catholic University of Bukavu for years. He says: “In the future, given the enormous number of concessions granted by our government, most of the production will be industrial. Currently, however, the majority of minerals are still handcrafted, that is to say, by hand, and are sold smuggled. Earning more in this game are the neighboring countries, especially Rwanda, where almost all the coltan and most of the Kivu cassiterif,, te ends, but also Burundi and Uganda, which take gold and lots more. The  (IMF) stated that Burundi has no gold, diamonds, columbo tantalite, copper, cobalt, or basic metals” mining operations, but has nonetheless been exporting them since 1998. Likewise, Rwanda and Uganda had no known production sites for many of the minerals they exported at vastly increased rates after they invaded the DRC. “Free zone areas” make diamonds challenging to track because they can be repackaged and “legally” sold as diamonds from that country. The DRC exported few minerals after the invasion because its rural infrastructure was disintegrated; mining and agricultural outputs waned. However, the air transportation networks’ new transport routes increased exploitation by the invaders.

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