Along Central African Republic’s (CAR) eastern rivers small groups of independent miners are searching for diamonds and gold. As with many miners, they have to pay for a licence. Their licence, however, is not issued by any government. Violent armed groups control these rivers, and they are the primary beneficiaries of their hidden wealth.
They are not the only armed groups or oppressive forces benefitting from mining’s bounty. The pattern is repeated in many countries stalked by conflict and instability.
There are diamonds in CAR and Zimbabwe, precious stones in Afghanistan and Myanmar. There is tungsten in Colombia and gold in Mexico and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which is also rich in tantalum, tungsten and cobalt.
These valuable resources are dug and blasted out of the ground by small groups of independent miners, or by large industrial companies, before changing hands many times on their way through supply chains that criss-cross the globe.
Ore becomes metal; metal is transformed into parts and components; these are in turn assembled into the products we use every day: our mobile phones, our cars and our computers. These tiny amounts may not sound like much, but they add up to a global trade in minerals worth billions of pounds.
Paying for conflict
If you have ever wondered how violent armed groups can afford to pay and equip their fighters, even in some of the world’s poorest countries, at least part of the answer is often found in and around these mining sites.
For the rest of this article, click here: http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2016/feb/29/mexico-gold-zimbabwe-diamond-mining-conflict-business-complicit