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Gold Is Becoming a Major Conflict Mineral



From VOA Learning English, this is the Economics Report.

Researchers have produced a new map of mining areas in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The map shows mines under the control of the Congolese army and armed groups. The study suggests that the top "conflict mineral" from the area is now gold. A Belgian group, the International Peace Information Service, developed the map with the DRC registry of mines. The researchers found that armed groups were involved at about 200 of the 800 mines they studied. The Congolese army was involved at 265 mines. The researchers said that both the military and the rebels are illegally taxing mine workers. The International Peace Information Service carried out a similar survey in 2009.

Filip Hilgert was the lead researcher. He told VOA the armed groups are now profiting much more from gold than from other conflict minerals, such as tin, tungsten and tantalum. One reason for the change has been an increase in the price of gold. Another reason has been stronger international rules for mineral imports. Mr. Higbert says such efforts have had a big effect on trade in tin, tungsten and tantalum. But it has not affected the gold trade.

Judith Sargentini is a member of the European Parliament. She has been campaigning for a European law on conflict minerals. She notes that gold, like diamonds, is easy to transport in small amounts which can make it hard to know where it was mined. The German geological institute BGR has collected minerals from hundreds of mines in Rwanda. The collection could be used to prove if minerals come from a conflict area.