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Opinion: US policy on Congo conflict minerals well-intentioned, but misguided

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There has been speculation that Rwanda has been laundering Congolese minerals and then selling them as their own.

That's difficult to know. Rwanda has also been hit hard by Dodd-Frank, as well. It is true that there is a lot of cassiterite smuggled into Rwanda. I am sure there are parallel structures in Rwanda, a black market. On the other hand, I think there are intensifying efforts to be more transparent – for example, they turned back Chinese trying to export minerals through Rwanda.

What do you think about the ITRI and BGR initiatives

We need a big discussion on the way forward. We need a bunch of things, not just tracing and tagging. We need to sit together to figure out. There are a lot of initiatives that have been proposed, but this has added to the confusion. We need one approach. The centres de négoce and tagging are not enough. Tagging is good – but you can end up tagging dirty minerals, as well! There is a whole bunch of work to do. Let's not confine ourselves to tagging.

What else can be done, then?

What we are trying to is to support local communities to supervise their own mines at a grassroots level. We will try to give them a mechanism to overview the process – to see if soldiers are taxing the minerals. We want to do this as civil society and then make reports that will we publish that will help keep mines clean. This, we hope, will happen in synergy with our Congolese and foreign partners. In general, we feel that these initiatives haven't taken into consideration the contributions of local organization. But we are discussing with them now.

What about BGR?

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