Congo Demands International Embargo on Rwandan Mineral Exports – by Michael J. Kavanagh (Bloomberg News – May 15, 2024)

(Bloomberg) — Democratic Republic of Congo called for an international embargo of metal exports from neighboring Rwanda, whose government it accuses of using rebel groups to steal its natural resources.

All mining products from Rwanda should be considered “blood minerals,” because their sale allegedly supports conflict in eastern Congo, Mines Minister Antoinette N’Samba Kalambayi said in a May 8 statement released on Tuesday. “All stakeholders, including end consumers of mining products,” should commit to a responsible supply chain, and “an embargo be decreed against Rwanda,” she said.

The minister’s plea follows the takeover earlier this month of Congo’s largest mines of tantalum, a key mineral in portable electronics, by the M23 rebel group. Congo and United Nations experts say M23 is backed by Rwanda, which is now receiving the smuggled tantalum and warehousing it for future sale, she said.

Rwanda’s government has repeatedly denied it supports M23. Last month, government spokesperson Yolande Makolo told Bloomberg that accusations that Rwanda is stealing minerals is “a scapegoating strategy” by the Congolese government to cover up its own “security and governance failures.” Makolo didn’t respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

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