Friday, 16 June 2017

U.S. Warns of New Reports Congo Troops Killing, Raping Women, Children

U.S. Warns of New Reports Congo Troops Killing, Raping Women, Children


A young woman who was raped and burned by the
 Congolese soldiers - by James Nachtwey (1948),

 The United States warned on Friday that it had received new reports from within Democratic Republic of Congo accusing Congolese troops of actively carrying out a campaign of killing and raping women and children in the central Kasai region.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, called for action.
"Reports of the Congolese government's campaign of murder and rape of women and children should shock us into action. These allegations must be investigated and those responsible held accountable," Haley said in a statement.
The Democratic Republic of Congo mission to the United Nations was not immediately available for comment.
20 Killed In Clashes In DR Congo's Kasai Region: UN

The top U.N. human rights official last week called for an international investigation into massacres and other crimes committed in the Kasai region where at least 42 mass graves have been found.
"It is past time for the Human Rights Council to take decisive action and launch an independent investigation into the human rights violations and abuses in the DRC. This is the core mission of the (council)," Haley said.
‘Raping makes us feel free’: DR Congo’s
 soldiers reveal.

Hundreds have been killed and 1.3 million displaced in central Congo since last August in fighting between a militia and government forces. Two U.N. sanctions monitors disappeared there in March and their bodies were found two weeks later.
Violence has risen nationally since President Joseph Kabila stayed in power after his mandate ended in December 2016.
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Andrew Hay)

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Child labor still rife in Democratic Republic of Congo

Child labor still rife in Democratic Republic of Congo


June 12 is the World Day Against Child Labour. The UN estimates that 168 million children are being put to work globally. Many of them are in Africa, particularly in the Congo, where cobalt mining by children is rampant.

According to the UN children's agency, UNICEF, about 40,000 children work in cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo. For a shift of up to 24 hours underground, most earn less than $2 (1.80 euro) a day - many receive half of that.

"The working conditions in the Congolese mines are miserable," Faustin Adeye, who works with the Catholic charity Misereor told DW. "Many children are often physically ruined as a result. There are whole excavations which they dig up with their bare hands using machetes spades."
Adeye said the conditions in some of the cobalt mines located in the southern Democratic Republic of Congo were so bad that at times the children are buried alive when the mines cave in.

Many children in Congo's cobalt mines work in deplorable 

Some of the children are as young as 7 years old and many work without any protective clothing, according to the human rights organization Amnesty International.
Do multinationals care?
The coveted raw material is used for making smartphone batteries. Big corporations such as Apple, Microsoft, Samsung and Sony rely on it for their electronic gadgets.
The mineral can also be found in electric cars produced by Daimler and Volkswagen. However, these companies do not want to be associated with child labor. In December, DW asked some of them to comment on the issue.

Conflict-free smartphones (Click here to watch the video)

Daimler, one of Germany's biggest car producers, responded in writing that it required all suppliers to comply with the applicable international rules and laws. The company's guidelines on working conditions, social and ethical standards, and environmental protection went far beyond legal requirements, according to Daimler, which added that the manufacturer expects suppliers to comply with at least the minimum standards.
BMW, another German carmaker, admitted that it has used cobalt from the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the production of certain batteries. The Munich-based firm announced that it would begin inspecting its suppliers to ensure that there were no human rights violations.

Apple says it introduced measures to stop using cobalt 
mined by children in Congo

In March, the US tech giant Apple reported that it wanted to stop the purchase of cobalt that had been mined by hand in the Congo.
Hard to resist
The largest cobalt deposits in the world are found in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. According to Amnesty International, at least 50 percent of the world's cobalt is mined there. It is therefore impossible to rule out the possibility that cobalt from the Congo would end up with companies all over the world.
About 168 million children work worldwide. The International Labor Organization launched the International Day Against Child Labour in 2002 to draw attention to their plight. It takes place every year on June 12.
This year, the focus will be on how conflicts and disasters affect child labor. Wars and environmental catastrophes threaten human rights. In most cases, children are affected: They often lack access to education or even loses their families. As a result, they are often forced to work.

                             THE DRC'S 'RESOURCES CURSE'  

Rich resources and violent opportunists

In the unstable eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo, treasures like gold and tin attract opportunistic militia. The violent groups exploit people, including children, to mine for "conflict minerals." With the revenue they buy weapons to conquer more territories and perpetuate the fighting.

                   THE DRC'S 'RESOURCES CURSE'


MONUSCO, the UN's biggest and most expensive peace-keeping mission, is working to stabilize the provinces of North and South Kivu, which lie at the center of the country's violence. Security forces patrol mining villages like Nzibira, which sits at the edge of Zola Zola, a legal cassiterite mine.

                                THE DRC'S 'RESOURCES CURSE'


Cassiterite is just one of the minerals used in mobile phones. Half of the world's production of those minerals comes from Central Africa. The DRC's export of tin, gold and other ore has been under particular scrutiny since 2010, when laws were introduced in the United States requiring listed US companies to ensure their supply chains were free from "conflict minerals".

                                  THE DRC'S 'RESOURCES CURSE'


A poster in Nzibira explains how sacks of minerals need to be properly sealed and labeled by the mine inspector so their legal origin can be proven to US firms. The system, however, has many gaps. Illicit mines can simply sell their yield on the black market or smuggle their goods into a legal mine to have them packed there.

                         THE DRC'S 'RESOURCES CURSE'


Despite efforts by rights groups, human rights violations remain widespread in mining operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Children like Esperance Furahaare, who was kidnapped and raped by militia when she was 14 years old, are common victims of exploitation and violence.

                                THE DRC'S 'RESOURCES CURSE'


Mines, which are difficult to police, can also harm the environment and surrounding communities. At illegal mines, waste water runoff often makes its way into local water sources, polluting the supply.

                            THE DRC'S 'RESOURCES CURSE'


US lawmakers are currently trying to advance a bill that would eliminate the 2010 reforms. Legislators argue that the Dodd-Frank Act has stifled economic development in the US and has not effectively addressed exploitation in Central Africa. While US companies must ensure their supplies are not conflict minerals, all they are expected to do is ask their suppliers, not supply proof or origin.



RD Congo: Évasion à la prison de Béni

RD Congo: Évasion à la prison de Béni


Un soldat fait la garde, lors du procès des rebelles
présumés ADF, à Beni, RDC, le 24 août 2016.

Dimanche, 80% des détenus se seraient évadés de la prison centrale de Beni-Kangbayi après une attaque.
Les assaillants de la prison centrale de Beni-Kangbayi n'ont pas été encore identifié.

Attaque à la prison centrale de  ce dimanche,80% de détenus évadés au moins 15 morts gardes et évadés.sources à BENI.@VOAFrench
Selon le correspondant de VOA Afrique à Goma en contact avec des témoins à Béni, 14 personnes auraient perdu la vie, huit gardes et six détenus.
Une réunion a été organisé par le comité provinciale de sécurité. Le gouverneur a demandé un couvre-feu sur les villes de Béni, Butembo et le territoire de Béni à partir de 18h30 (heure locale).

View image on Twitter

Prison de BENI: attaque ce dimanche:Mesure prise par comité de sécurité COUVRE-Feu décrété ce dimanche à partir 18h30

Friday, 9 June 2017

Race to supply more cobalt is on as demand for electric cars increases

Race to supply more cobalt is on as demand for electric cars increases


Excavators and drillers at work in an open pit copper and
 cobalt mine in the DRC.

The race is on to supply more of the cobalt needed for batteries in the fast-growing market for electric vehicles — and that means fresh competition for the big players Glencore and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
A pipeline of projects is looming in places including Australia, the US and Canada after cobalt prices more than doubled in the past year. Glencore produces almost a third of the world’s supply, mainly from the Congo, which is by far the biggest source, accounting for as much as 65%.
Among those backing new global developments are billionaire Anil Agarwal and mining tycoon Robert Friedland. They were aiming to capitalise as a battery boom sent demand for cobalt soaring more than 30-fold by 2030, said Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
"There’s going to have to be a response that goes beyond Congo," said Sam Riggall, CEO of Friedland-backed Clean TeQ Holdings, which is developing a $680m cobalt, nickel and scandium project about 350km west of Sydney. Congo’s tight grip on the market is a concern for battery producers to [car] makers, he said. "They are desperately looking for sources of supply outside of Africa."
The arrival of an era of battery-powered vehicles had already kick-started a period of unprecedented growth for the metal, Franck Schulders, Glencore’s head of cobalt marketing, said in an interview. Volkswagen and Ford were among car makers investing in electric vehicles and the whole market could be worth $244bn by 2025, Goldman Sachs said in a late 2015 report.
Rising cobalt demand and flat supply in the 100,000 tonnes-a-year market opened a 1,500 tonne deficit in 2016 that could triple this year, said CRU Group. There were more than 370 undeveloped discoveries and at least a dozen viable projects outside Congo that could come online by 2023, CRU senior consultant Edward Spencer said in an e-mail.
"There’s no way that current supply is going to keep up," said Matthew Painter, MD of Ardea Resources, which is aiming to develop a former Vale deposit in Western Australia that the company estimates holds the developed world’s largest cobalt resource.
"Some of the forecasts for cobalt supply are pretty dire."
Cobalt on the London Metal Exchange traded at about $32,000 a tonne at the end of 2016, up 36% from the previous year, and has rallied about 65% to more than $56,000 a tonne in 2017. That is equivalent to more than $25.40 a pound. They were likely to double in 2017 and could remain above $20 a pound until the end of the decade, CRU’s Spencer said.
A typical electric car battery contains 15kg of cobalt, while a laptop needs about 33g and a smartphone requires 6g, according to Sydney-based project developer Cobalt Blue Holdings.
Glencore’s Hong Kong-traded shares declined 0.2% to HK$28.55 at 9:56am local time on Friday.
Almost all cobalt was produced as a by-product at nickel and copper mines and "in terms of new projects, a higher cobalt price certainly makes some" planned multi-metal developments more viable, said Macquarie Group’s head of commodities research, Colin Hamilton.
While Congo would remain the dominant supplier of the metal, the nation’s market share would fall as a result of developments elsewhere, he said.
Australia, which holds about 14% of the world’s known reserves, is poised for the largest growth in production in the six years until the end of 2021, with output forecast to rise 31%, according to Business Monitor International. Congo will add 24% over the same period, as output in China rises 10%, the data show.
"There’s a few new ideas, new mines and junior mining companies. They are all years away from production and they tend to be very small, like fantasies," said Benedikt Sobotka, CEO of Eurasian Resources Group, which produces copper and cobalt in Congo. "They are not going to make a big difference for our industry."
Projects in Congo from Glencore and Eurasian Resources could potentially add 40,000 tonnes of mined supply by 2022, according to CRU’s Spencer.
Congo is under pressure to restrict artisanal mining, including in the cobalt sector, which a 2016 Amnesty International report said had a prevalent use of child labour.
Tesla Motors, among the largest consumers, undertook in 2014 to source the metal only from North American miners because of supply-chain concerns. Apple said in March it had expanded responsible sourcing efforts beyond conflict minerals to include cobalt.
There was work across the cobalt supply chain "to look at provenance, verification and that sort of due diligence", Glencore’s head of sustainable development, Anna Krutikov, said in an interview.
Glencore supported co-operatives in Congo with more than 3,000 members offering people alternative livelihoods to artisanal mining, including in agriculture, she said.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

DR Congo: UN Should Investigate Kasai Violence

DR Congo: UN Should Investigate Kasai Violence


271 Groups Urge Prompt Human Rights Council Action

UN investigators have confirmed the existence of at least
 42 mass graves in the greater Kasai region since 
August 2016

(Geneva) – The United Nations Human Rights Council should urgently establish a commission of inquiry into the situation in the central Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of Congoa coalition of 262 Congolese and 9 international nongovernmental organizations said today. The 35th session of the Human Rights Council begins June 6, 2017, in Geneva.
“The violence in the Kasai region has caused immense suffering, with Congolese authorities unable or unwilling to stop the carnage or hold those responsible for the abuses to account,” said Ida Sawyer, Central Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “An independent, international investigation is needed to document the abuses, identify those responsible, and help ensure justice for the victims.”
Between 500 and 1,000 people have been killed in the Kasai region since large-scale violence between the Congolese army and the Kamuina Nsapu movement broke out in August 2016, according to the UN. Human rights activists and UN monitors have had difficulties reaching parts of the region, so the actual number of dead may be significantly higher.
Congolese army soldiers have used excessive force in violation of international law, killing scores of suspected Kamuina Nsapu members and sympathizers, including large numbers of women and children. Members of the group, armed largely with sticks and other crude weapons, have recruited children and carried out targeted attacks on the government, killing police officers, soldiers, and local officials.
Over 1.3 million people in the region have been displaced from their homes in recent months, including over 23,500 who fled to neighboring Angola.
Two members of the UN Group of Experts on Congo, Zaida Catalán, a Swede and Chilean, as well as Michael J. Sharp, an American, were killed in March 2017, while investigating widespread human rights abuses in the region. It remains unclear who was responsible. The four Congolese who had accompanied them – their interpreter, Betu Tshintela, and three motorbike drivers – are still missing.
UN investigators have confirmed the existence of at least 42 mass graves in the greater Kasai region since August 2016.
On March 8, 2017, the UN high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, called for the creation of a commission of inquiry to investigate violence in the Kasais. Congolese officials then pledged to carry out their own investigation, and on March 22, agreed to support from the UN and African Union (AU). This investigation has not moved forward in a transparent or credible way, and the UN and AU have not been able to effectively collaborate with the Congolese investigators or support the Congolese investigation, the organizations said.
On April 19, the high commissioner said that meaningful steps by the Congolese government “to ensure that there is a prompt, transparent, independent investigation to establish the facts and circumstances of alleged human rights violations and abuses perpetrated by all parties, and other abuses of justice” had been “lacking.”
“Given widespread army violations, alleged involvement by top officials, and past interference in sensitive cases, the Congolese judiciary’s ability to credibly investigate the violence is in serious doubt,” said Georges Kapiamba, president of the Congolese Association for Access to Justice (ACAJ). “An independent, international inquiry is necessary to get to the bottom of what’s really happening in the Kasais and who is responsible.”
The conflict in the Kasai region is purportedly about customary control over local chieftaincies, but there are also clear ties to national political dynamics, with the Congolese army backing the leadership of people seen to be loyal to President Joseph Kabila and his political coalition, and some of the Kamuina Nsapu groups supporting people seen to be closer to the opposition.
Violence escalated after state security forces killed Kamuina Nsapu, the apparent heir to the throne of a chieftaincy in the Tshimbulu area, in August 2016. Since his death, the group named after him has grown into more of a popular movement than an organized armed group with clear command structures. Some Kamuina Nsapu members have directed their demands toward the national political crisis, calling for Kabila to step down. His constitutionally mandated two-term limit ended on December 19.
In recent months, Kamuina Nsapu factions and other armed groups have proliferated, with some of the groups fighting each other. Local politicians have reportedly sought to manipulate ethnic tensions in the region, encouraging militias from certain ethnic groups to attack people from other ethnic groups.
“The Human Rights Council’s engagement now is critical to help protect civilians from further violence, and to press for accountability for serious violations and abuses both by the Congolese army and armed groups,” said Paul Nsapu, deputy secretary-general of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH). “A strong message is needed to show that these crimes won’t go unpunished.”
For a complete list of the 262 Congolese and 9 international nongovernmental organizations calling for the United Nations Human Rights Council to establish a commission of inquiry into the situation in the central Kasai region, please visit:
 Human Rights Watch

Friday, 26 May 2017

Cobalt and lithium are ones to watch in 2017

Cobalt and lithium are ones to watch in 2017


China's appetite for new tech is set to drive demand for key battery ingredients

Artisanal miners work at the Tilwizembe copper-cobalt
 mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

SYDNEY Cobalt may be the most interesting commodity to watch in 2017.
With global carmakers committed to producing more electric vehicles amid changes in battery technologies, Macquarie Research has projected that demand for cobalt-cathode batteries could rise 10% this year. That could give cobalt a significant boost. "Risks remain -- mainly technological ones on the demand side and geopolitical ones on the supply side, but for now the perennial underperformer in metals markets looks well-placed to shine," Macquarie said in a recent report.
The outlook is similarly rosy for lithium, which is also used in device batteries. U.S. chemicals producer Albemarle said in March that it expects demand to grow by 30,000 tons a year, up from an initial forecast of 20,000 tons. The company puts global consumption last year at 190,000 tons.
MARKET MOVER As with most commodities, what happens in China will largely determine which way the markets for technology materials move. China produces, processes, consumes or otherwise controls much of the world's supply and demand for rare-earth metals, lithium, cobalt, manganese and nickel. These materials are in demand for new electronic devices and renewable energy systems, among other emerging applications.
There are exceptions to China's dominance. South Africa is the world's biggest manganese miner, largely from its rich Kalahari Basin. Australia and Chile are the leading producers of lithium, though Chinese companies are angling to secure stakes there. Australia's Lynas is the only significant rare earths producer outside of China, but its key customers are in Japan and China.
Cobalt has an uneasy reputation in the mining industry as a "conflict mineral" in the same vein as diamonds. About 60% of the world's cobalt is mined in the strife-riven Democratic Republic of Congo, where years of civil war, human rights abuses and child labor have left a legacy of suspicion and mistrust. Some mining there is artisanal, or effectively manual, often by very young workers in unsafe conditions.
China buys and processes more than half of the cobalt produced in Congo for its own needs and for shipping elsewhere. Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt is the single biggest buyer of Congolese cobalt. Earlier this year, China Molybdenum bought a 56% stake in the Tenke Fungurume mine, one of Congo's biggest, for $2.65 billion from Freeport-McMoRan of the U.S.
Following a report last year by Amnesty International on cobalt mining conditions in Congo, end users such as Apple, Samsung SDI and Sony came under pressure to take action.
In March, Apple suspended purchases from Zhejiang Huayou, but it continues to buy cobalt from Chinese rivals Ganzhou Yi Hao Umicore Industries, Lanzhou Jinchuan Advanced Materials Technology and Jiangsu Cobalt Nickel Metal.
Everywhere end users are aiming to iron out potential kinks in their supply chains. Sometimes that can mean getting closer to the source of critical minerals. Officials from BYD, a Chinese electric vehicle manufacturer that counts Warren Buffett as an investor, disclosed in April that it is in talks with Chilean lithium producers about possible investment. "We consume 20% of the lithium supply in the world," the Financial Times quoted one executive saying. "That means we have a strong interest to secure a stable supply of lithium."
The brine pools and processing areas of the Soquimich
 lithium mine in Chile.

Chinese metals company Tianqi Lithium last year announced plans to invest in one Chilean producer, and it is working to expand a mine it co-owns with Albemarle in Western Australia. Jiangxi Ganfeng Lithium, another producer, reached a deal in January that will give it a 19.7% stake in a company with lithium projects in Argentina and the U.S. state of Nevada. In Western Australia, Ganfeng owns 43% of the Mt. Marion lithium mine, which shipped its first concentrate to China in February. Another China-focused company, Australian Securities Exchange-listed Galaxy Resources, resumed concentrate shipments to China from its Mt. Cattlin lithium mine in Western Australia in January.
BYD uses only lithium-iron-phosphate batteries and is the market leader in China for both pure electric vehicles and hybrids. London-based metals consultancy CRU Group, however, says other Chinese electric vehicle makers are moving toward cobalt-based batteries, which are already the battery of choice elsewhere.
CRU predicts that greater interest in nickel-cobalt-aluminum and nickel-manganese-cobalt vehicle batteries from Chinese producers will raise demand for cobalt to more than 8,000 tons by 2021. BAIC Motor's E-series electric vehicle, which uses a nickel-manganese-cobalt battery, was the country's top-selling fully electric vehicle last year.
Short of some dramatic breakthrough in alternative battery technology, demand for lithium, cobalt, graphite and other rare earths looks destined to rise hand in hand with the global growth in electric vehicles, renewable energy and consumer devices.
GEOFF HISCOCK, Contributing writer

Nikkei Asian Review