Many of the world’s computers and cellphones are likely to be tainted by “conflict minerals” from Congolese mines where abusive militias and child labour are common, because of failures in a much-touted system of tagging and verifying minerals in the Central African supply chain, a new report says.
The report by British-based environmental research group Global Witness, to be released on Wednesday, alleges that the tagging-and-tracing scheme has become a way for traders to launder their tainted minerals and legitimize smuggling networks.
Evidence of corruption or fraud in the tagging system, which was designed to ensure supply has been ethically sourced, has been ignored by agents and officials in the system, the report says.
The report reinforces the conclusions of other researchers, including United Nations experts, who have uncovered evidence of sophisticated mineral-smuggling networks in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
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