Mineral Extraction

Regional wars have been fought for years over Congo’s vast natural resources, including, gold, diamonds, coltan, tantalum, and timber. Historically, there have been few checks on how these resources are sourced and exported, allowing for illegal exploitation and profiteering worth billions of dollars. The benefactors have been the foreign governments that have plundered Congo’s riches, the multinational companies using the resources, and individuals in positions of power. Changes are afoot however. In response to the role illicit minerals from Congo and its East African neighbours played in funding conflicts, the United States passed legislation in 2010 requiring U.S.-listed companies to disclose whether their products such as laptops and mobile phones contained any tantalum, tin, tungsten or gold from the region—and perform due diligence. A similar European Union rule will take effect in 2021 and the London Metal Exchange could ban suppliers of metals that are not responsibly sourced by 2025. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that Congo produced 39% of the world’s tantalum last year.