Monday, November 17, 2008


clipped from:

Transcript of David Barouski's 10/19/08 Presentation for Congo Week in Chicago, IL.
October 21, 2008

Mr. Kambale Musavuli,

main sponsors of Congo Week,
the Friends of the Congo (who generously supplied us with the video),
the African Faith and Justice Network,
Global Congo Action,
the Hip Hop Caucus,
Global Ministries,
the Institute for Policy Studies,
Jubilee USA Network,
People to People Liaison, and the
Women for the Development of the DRC
Mr. Kisuule Magala

Cassiterite ore trade in the Congo, particularly in the North Kivu Province.

I will discuss the various actors involved in the trade, and how their roles have changed over time. I will show how the cassiterite trade is directly linked to warring factions in the Congo and how it financially sustains their activities.

Let us begin with two obvious but important questions: What is cassiterite ore and why is it desirable? Its value comes from the fact that it yields tin after smelting. In 2004, new environmental laws were enacted in Japan and the European Union (E.U.) that forced all lead-based solder to be replaced with tin as soon as possible, raising its market demand considerably. Solder is used extensively in the electronics industry to connect wiring components to circuit boards. According to a December 2007 report by Finnwatch, the global solder market accounts for nearly half for the world's tin consumption, and 70% of the world's solder is sold to the electronics industry. I will expand on this point later. Cassiterite also has applications in the automotive industry and can be used as a coating on metal to prevent corrosion.
Exponential growth in China's booming industrial sector also contributed to a greater market demand for tin.

The Congo is important to the world market because it contains roughly a third of the world's cassiterite ore reserves and produces about 4% of the world's tin supply.'

The tin trade eventually rebounded in 2004, in large part due to the aforementioned environmental laws.'

the North Kivu Division of Mines office in Goma registered exports of 938 tons in 2003, 4,672 tons in 2004, 3,599 tons in 2005, and 2,904 tons in 2006. Again, keep in mind this is only the registered exports, and does not include smuggled ore, or ore handled directly by the Congolese military. United Nations' investigators estimate that 70% of the cassiterite mined in the Congo is smuggled out of the country. To my knowledge, Rwanda has not publicly released official data on its cassiterite exports since 2004. In that year, Rwanda exported 1,800 tons more cassiterite than they actually produced, demonstrating large-scale smuggling occurred.

Cassiterite is most often found in the same general mining areas as coltan. Coltan was the most coveted ore in the Congo from 1998 until 2001
are found in Walikale Territory.

The most coveted deposit in Walikale Territory is located in Bisie
In Bisie, there are roughly 167 individual mining areas
At least 29 of these pits are controlled by elements of the Congolese National Army, or FARDC
traders meet the artisanal miners in the village of Mubi or Ndjingala to appraise each dig's value.
From Mubi and Ndjingala, wealthy traders and comptoir owners have the ore flown out of Walikale Territory by hiring small charter planes to fly it back to Goma or Kigali.

The Kilambo airstrip was originally a road connecting Mubi, Walikale town, and Kisangani, but it degraded

Rebuilding this road is a priority of President Joseph Kabila's administration to facilitate better access to the mines and eventually connect Kisangani to Goma.

the supply chain

planes offload the ore in Goma
Once the purified ore is ready for export, a transporter is hired by the comptoir to move the shipment by land.
They drive the ore to a port, either Mombasa, Kenya, or Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Mombasa is the preferred destination,

Most drivers get there by travelling through Uganda via the Bunagana-Kasese-Kabale route

Since mid-2007, General Laurent Nkunda's National Congress of the Defense of the People (CNDP) has controlled the Bunagana border post.

The CNDP uses it as part of a supply route to smuggle in weapons, supplies, and military reinforcements from Rwanda.
It is comprised of several Rwandan Defense Forces (RDF)
The same sources also claim General Nkunda's main arms caches are held in two of Rwanda's largest military bases: Gabiro (in the Mutura region of Northeast Rwanda) and Kanombe.

By controlling the Bunagana border post, the CNDP is able to tax exporters on North Kivu's busiest transportation route.

Ore transporters can take the Ishasha-Kabale route, but the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda/ Forces Combattantes Abacunguzi (FDLR-FOCA) and the FARDC periodically clash in this area. They can also travel up north to Vitshumbi, but then they have to take their chances with the Mai-Mai, FDLR/FOCA, and government soldiers who inhabit the area. The other option is to go to Rwanda through Goma unhindered. However, travelling through Uganda is much cheaper than travelling through Rwanda.

look in depth at the comptoirs in Goma. Senator Edouard Hizi Mwangachuchu, owns a comptoir called MHI. In 1996, Mr. Mwangachuchu was a political refugee in the United States after leaving the country following the invasion by Laurent Kabila's Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (AFDL-CZ) and the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA)

Currently, CNDP soldiers reportedly inhabit the mining site. 600 to 900 artisanal miners and forced laborers work the area under their watch.

Not coincidentally, the initial increased demand for cassiterite ore coincided with the beginning of General Laurent Nkunda's insurrection.

On May 26, 2004, Colonel Jules Mutebusi, a Tutsi officer who mutinied from the Congolese army, led an attack on government forces in the city of Bukavu. Days later, General Nkunda led a large group of mutineers and Rwandan Army soldiers south to Bukavu. They claimed they were intervening to stop a genocide against Banyamulenge civilians in Bukavu, but subsequent investigations were unable to turn up any evidence that genocide took place. General Nkunda occupied Bukavu for several days, drawing Congolese army and UN military reinforcements to South Kivu. ...

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