American Rules make it hard for Congo’s miners to remain legal.

Why it’s hard for Congo’s coltan miners to abide by the law. American rules against conflict minerals have unintended consequences. Martin is a Congolese pastor with an interest in coltan smuggling. “You can hide it in the petrol tank of a motorbike,” he says, “or in a secret compartment under a lorry.” He smuggles coltan into neighbouring Rwanda, where it costs about half as much to export the stuff. The border police know which vehicles are smugglers’, says Martin (not his real name), but they look away in exchange for a cut.

Tantalum, a metal used in smartphone and laptop batteries, is extracted from coltan ore. In 2019 40% of the world’s coltan was produced in the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to official data. More was sneaked into Rwanda and exported from there. Locals dig for the ore by hand in Congo’s eastern provinces, where more than 100 armed groups hide in the bush. Some mines are run by warlords who work with rogue members of the Congolese army to smuggle the coltan out.

Read more here: Source: The Economist

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