Reading one of our weekly magazines (BKA) a week ago, I saw this picture that inspired me to write a blog about Blood Gold
Translation: Where gold loses its shine.
Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, Nigeria, Niger, Zambia, Namibia, Mozambique, Guinea, Tanzania, Ghana and Botswana. Apart from that these countries are all in Africa, what else do they have in common? They are rich in natural resources and minerals.
Democratic Republic of Congo: Gold, Copper, Diamond, Tantalum, Cobalt, Oil, Tin
South Africa: Gold, Diamond
Niger: Cement, Gold, Uranium and Coal
Zambia: Emerald, Copper
Namibia: Diamond, Copper, Sulphur, Zinc, Lead, Uranium
Tanzania: Gold, Diamond, Silver
Ghana: Gold, Diamond, Salt, Silver, Petroleum
Botswana: Diamond, Copper, Coal
Despite all this resources, only a handful of citizens in the above mentioned countries gain from the minerals.
Corruption, mismanagement, violence and war has torn some of these countries apart such that there is almost no recognised governmental body responsible to control how the resources are extracted. In Nigeria, the wealth gained from oil barely touches people`s lives.
The Democratic Republic of Congo has some of the richest mineral deposits in the world. It produces 20-50 percent of the world`s supply of Tantalum. Unfortunately, the country has been destroyed by war which has made it difficult to control extraction of the minerals legally.
Wars have been sponsored by selling gold and diamonds. There are children as young as 11 years old working in gold mines. Many parents who are unable to send their children to school prefer to send them to the mines where they can earn money and help their families with. Parents have lost their children in the mines due to poor working conditions.
Another issue here is, those working in the mines, those doing the physical work, are the ones that gain the least from these minerals.
In some areas, mine diggers, mostly underaged children, get an income of 3 dollars a day. That is, if they manage to find any mineral at all. If not, they leave with nothing…
Many of the mine fields in war torn countries are controlled by war lords who use the money they receive from selling minerals to sponsor their wars.
Some countries in the west have invested millions in order to comply with the requirements that will enable them to disclose minerals from conflict zones in their supply chain. Unfortunately, this is not the case every where. Many companies that fulfilled these requirements said they could still not determine if their products were conflict-free. Of course tracing the origin of these minerals is not an easy task but it is not impossible.
Dubai is one of those countries that sells diamond products with diamonds from the Central African Republic, a country that has suffered from civil war and is still politically very unstable.
Yes, the problem lies solely in Africa, but we are all responsible to join in the fight against blood gold and blood diamond.
A smartphone, a lightbulb, an underwire bra, a pair of earrings. These every day items contain minerals that human right groups say help fund one of the worlds bloodiest dilemmas.