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Conflict Minerals Persist as Rebel Surrenders

Regional war over minerals afflicts central Africa. Click for larger map.
March 19, 2013 - Rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda, a leader of the M23 insurgency in DR Congo, surrendered himself to the US Embassy in neighboring Rwanda March 18 after suffering setbacks within his own group. He asked the US to turn him over to the International Criminal Court, where he faces war crimes charges.

Recently a rival group led by Sultani Makenga forced Ntaganda from Congo after a series of clashes.

Conflict Minerals Fuel Fight

A lucrative trade in minerals such as tin, coltan and gold has exacerbated and funded the long-running regional war in the border regions of DR Congo and Rwanda. A recent UN report said that despite efforts, corruption and law-breaking occurs all along the supply chain from the artisanal miners in the bush to the exporters in African cities.

The M23 rebel group, named after a failed peace agreement of March 23, 2012, has been implicated in recent atrocities related to fight over control of the mineral-rich province of North Kivu.

In the course of their fight to control territory both Ntaganda and Makenga allegedly have resorted to using child soldiers, rape and murder as means of war. Ntaganda will now stand trial for charges outlined in his arrest warrant. Makenga is under UN sanctions forbidding foreign travel and freezing assets.

Dodd-Frank Law Covers Conflict Minerals

Other legal means are being used to address conflict minerals. In January 2013 a new US law went into effect requiring companies to disclose if they are using minerals originating from or financing the conflict in the DR Congo and areas around it. Under the rules, which where issued in August 2012 two years after the bill's passage, companies must make a good faith, "reasonable country of origin inquiry" to assess whether their raw materials come from conflict zones.

The minerals covered under the law include gold, wolframite, cassiterite and coltan. Metals such as tin and tungsten can be derived from some of these minerals and the electrical capacitance qualities of coltan make it a choice material for mobile phones.