On the sidelines of the Kimberley Process Intersessional taking place this week in Antwerp, the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) and the African Diamond Producers Association (ADPA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to facilitate their common objectives of improving the image, professionalization and marketing of African diamonds.
"Those 238 grams are believed to be the most rigorously documented export of small-scale gold in history", writes The Globe and Mail. They are referring to 238 grams of gold that Canadian NGO Partnership Africa Canada (PAC) purchased from small-scale mining sites in eastern Congo as part of a pioneering new system of gold exports called "Just Gold", initiated to generate a new form of highly detailed sourcing data.
An energy company executive has appeared in court in New York to face criminal charges that he diverted $18.5 million in company profits to a personal investment in an alleged conflict diamond mine Congolese. Gary Mole, the onetime owner of now-defunct Glacial Energy Holdings, pleaded not guilty to avoiding $740,000 in New York state taxes from 2005 to 2009. At different times, Mole classified the corporate cash as his own, listed the Générales des Mines au Congo mine as a consultant and backdated the “consulting agreement” with the mine, also known as Gemico, according to court papers.
Is using a smartphone made from materials mined in war-torn Africa really better than buying "blood diamonds"? Rebel groups in the DRC and neighboring countries run mines that produce key minerals used in the manufacture of consumer electronics and more mundane products such as zippers. The proceeds fund conflicts that have killed up to 5 million people since 1998. In hopes of stemming the use of such "conflict minerals", the US Congress included a provision in the Dodd-Frank law passed in 2010 requiring U.S.
A group of human rights NGOs in the DRC have appealed directly to President Kabila to secure the restitution of a 822-carat diamond to its rightful owner. The diamond was seized in 2005 by Belgian customs for attempted fraudulent export and dubious origin, and returned to the competent authorities in the DRC, but the diamond has never been returned to its owner, despite Kabila's promise that it would be. The NGOs claim that representatives of Kabila's government have violated the rights of and threatened the owner, Theodore Mbiya Kalala.
A new report by Global Witness and Amnesty International claims that more than three-quarters of U.S. publicly traded companies analyzed by human rights groups are failing to adequately check and disclose whether their products contain conflict minerals from Central Africa.
The report, Digging for Transparency, analyzes 100 conflict minerals reports filed by companies including Apple, Boeing and Tiffany & Co under the 2010 Dodd Frank Act (Section 1502), known as the conflict minerals law. The findings point to alarming gaps in U.S. corporate transparency.
The Democratic Republic of Congo plans to increase mining royalties and raise its stake in future projects according to a revised mining code. This will raise the royalty on diamonds and other gems to 6 percent from 4 percent. Royalties on copper and cobalt revenue will increase to 3.5% from 2 % and on gold and other precious metals to 3.5% from 2.5%. According to the code, the government’s free share of new mining projects will increase to 10% from 5%, while profit tax jumps to 35% from the current 30%.
Mwana Africa Plc said it will cost almost $100 million to realize plans to raise production tenfold at its venture with the Democratic Republic of Congo’s state-owned diamond miner. The Societe Miniere de Bakwanga, or Miba, has the potential to increase annual diamond output to as many as 8 million carats from 500,000 carats now, said Mwana CEO Kalaa Mpinga. The plan involves shifting from alluvial mining to targeting kimberlite diamonds.
In their article “Revisiting the Conflict Minerals Rule”, Alex Bracket Estelle Levin and Yves Melin review and assess the impact of the Dodd-Frank conflict minerals rule, summarize the proposed European Commission rules for the EU, compare the EU proposal with the U.S.’s Dodd-Frank Act and critically review it in terms of its stated objective.
Eyeing a recovery after having been in dire straits for years, DRC miner MIBA is negotiating a cooperation agreement with Chinese company Fametal. The deal would secure Fametal the rights to mine in MIBA concessions on the Sankura River. In return, the Chinese company would pay royalties for exploration rights.
It is estimated that a $20 million investment is needed for the MIBA recovery, with the Congolese government having earmarked $10 million already. DRC industry experts hope that Fametal will provide the rest, and that MIBA can build on its modest gains in 2014.
Lauren Wolfe summarizes criticism on the effect of Dodd Frank in DRC, saying Congolese mining areas were not controlled by armed groups in the first place. And while in reality the Dodd Frank legislation is hardly enforceable, the lives of Congolese civilians worsened severely.
Legislation enacted by US President Barack Obama to prevent companies’ use of conflict minerals from Congo is said to be causing more damage than good, according to local miners. The Dodd-Franck act; whose goal is to cut diamond funding of militias is plunging miners and their families into deep poverty.