A combination of falling commodity prices, a depressed Chinese demand and deteriorating financial conditions worldwide have severely hit the mineral sector in DR Congo and especially its eastern part of the Kivu provinces, a region which has already suffered a series of repetitive rebellions and wars since early 1990. Traditionally known for its agricultural products, the coltan boom which started in the year 2000 put North Kivu on the map of mineral producers at a time when the electronics industry created a high demand for Colombo-Tantalite, which is used in smartphones and other electronic devices. This high demand for coltan coincided with the second DR Congo war (1998 – 2003) which was caused by years of bad governance, systematic state corruption, heightened poverty and ethnic divisions. Within such a context, mineral production from the Kivu was soon labelled “Blood Minerals” because many (though not all) armed groups generated revenue from control of artisanal mineral exploitation or trade routes.
Among the various tools put into place to regulate the Congolese mining sector, the American Dodd-Frank Act in its section 1502 has had a significant negative local impact. Companies sourcing minerals such as Tin, Tungsten and Tantalite from the region were compelled to prove that their supply chain was free from conflict minerals. The fear of not being capable of proving anything because of the extremely difficult operating environment in the DRC pushed them to stop sourcing from the Kivu region. There have been good intentions to improve transparency and due diligence and a mining sector reform that seeks to enable mining revenues to contribute to development is in itself a good thing. However, this is not enough to solve the underlying issues. In this seminar, Aloys Tegera will discuss what is necessary to address the underlying causes of violent conflict in the DRC and how it requires a more comprehensive spectrum of peacebuilding interventions.
Aloys Tegera is currently the Director of Research at Pole Institute, a research - action and capacity building institute based in Goma (DRC). With time, Pole Institute has become a recognized think tank in the Great Lakes region and works mainly on issues ranging from natural resources, governance issues and community identities. Aloys Tegera is a holder of an MA in religious studies, an MA in social and economic sciences, DEA in social anthropology and PhD in History. He is one of the founding fathers of the Pole Institute and was the manager of the institute from 2000 to 2009.