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Monday, 18th August 2014

Doing Good, while Doing Well: Is There a Win-Win Formula for Investing Responsibly in Congo’s Minerals Sector?

Source: Enough Project

From Executive Summary:

Natural resources have fueled violent armed conflict and invited corporate misbehavior for decades in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (“Congo”), but that trend is beginning to shift. While much of the minerals sector still lacks adequate security, and armed groups remain active, conditions in at least some areas are improving. State and regional institutions are beginning to advance reforms in the minerals sector, and there is a growing push for foreign private investment in the region.

Indeed, the goal of a safer and more regulated minerals market in eastern Congo and the Great Lakes region of Africa is slowly advancing, making sound investment and sourcing an increasing possibility. This shift is also linked to broader political efforts to establish sustainable peace. Due to the region’s vast minerals wealth, economic development and minerals regulation are critical to the safety and wellbeing of its citizens. Meanwhile, there is growing awareness of the importance of corporate social responsibility related to private foreign investors in fragile, resource-rich states. Investment in the minerals sector requires companies to attend to many core principles of peacebuilding: transparency, human rights, and environmental management. As minerals sector regulation continues, companies and state actors should pursue investment and development with these larger goals in mind.

Congo remains a challenging operating environment for foreign investors and mining companies, with high corruption rates, severe gaps in infrastructure and rule of law, and significant security concerns. However, change is afoot, making responsible, profitable investment more realistic than in the past. A multi-stakeholder group has validated 112 mines in Congo as “conflict-free,” and 21 companies are now sourcing from 16 of them.1 Section 1502 of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Dodd-Frank law”) spurred market changes that have helped significantly reduce the involvement of armed groups in the tin, tantalum, and tungsten (“3T”) mines, giving rise to new clean sourcing initiatives ripe for investment. Artisanal gold mining, however, remains a significant challenge.

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Having begun his career in academic libraries, Adrian Janes has subsequently worked extensively in public libraries, chiefly in enquiry work as an Information Services librarian. In this role he has had particular responsibility for information from both the UK Government and the European Union. He wrote a detailed report on sources for the latter which was published by FreePint in 2007, and has contributed articles to FreePint and ResourceShelf. He is involved in training in information literacy and the use of online reference resources.

A Contributing Editor to DocuTicker, he also write reviews for Pennyblackmusic.

Adrian can be reached at adrian.janes@freepint.com

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