May 2, 2012
Beyond ‘Blood Diamonds:’ Fingerprinting Other Conflict Minerals
Blood diamonds may get the most attention. But they are not the only minerals sold on the world market to finance wars and other conflicts in sub-Saharan Africa, according to an article in the current issue of Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.
The story, by C&EN Senior Editor Celia Henry Arnaud, focuses on minerals being mined in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and sold to underwrite political militias there that ruthlessly injure and kill civilians. Metals made from these mineral ores are used in aerospace, electronics, light bulbs and other technologies. A federal law passed in 2010 forbids companies from buying the minerals cassiterite, columbite-tantalite, wolframite and gold from sources in the DRC and nine neighboring countries. The article focuses on the development of "fingerprinting" technology these companies badly need to ensure that they are using conflict-free minerals.
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