"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)



Early Friday evening, the Enough Project's David Sullivan and Laura Heaton posted a response to their critics on the conflict minerals issue. They didn't name or link to the "corner of the blogosphere [that] has been subsumed with posts pointing out the merits and the perceived flaws of the new law," but I think we can safely assume that I'm one of the unnamed troublemakers to whom they are referring.

Sullivan and Heaton's key points as I read them are as follows:
  • Enough has not oversimplified the message, and it is inaccurate to say that they've promoted a narrative that suggests that ending the conflict mineral trade will solve the DRC's problems.
  • It's virtually impossible for American legislation to effect change in drivers of conflict like land reform or citizenship rights, so it's better to focus on the consumer electronics angle as that might have an effect on outcomes.
  • Their views are supported by Congolese civil society and government actors.
  • The regulations currently being developed by the SEC will provide a "demand shock" that will eventually unravel the militarized mineral trade.
Chris Blattman formulated an excellent response to several of these arguments. Among his points, he notes that the question of whether a demand shock will actually occur is wide open, especially given the relatively small percentage of the world's supply of these minerals that come from the DRC (As Dan Fahey notes, the DRC produces a very small percentage of the world's supply of all of the 3T minerals - the probability that most of us are carrying around Congolese minerals in our cell phones is actually pretty slim) and the fact that SEC regulations are very unlikely to have much of an effect on sales of these minerals to companies in the BRIC states.

This is really important, and it's an area in which I'd argue that Enough has misled advocates and policy makers by overstating the importance of Congolese minerals in the global economy, as well as the extent to which supply chain regulation in the DRC is possible given current institutional limitations.

It's been interesting to watch Enough backtrack on the claim that minerals are a key driver of the conflict in recent weeks. Unfortunately for them, much of their advocacy material makes clear that this is exactly the message they sold over the course of the last few years. While the reports have gotten more nuanced over time, the central message that stands out to uninformed observers is still very simple, and very wrong. I've seen what I assume is one of their standard presentations given to a group of college students late last year. Along with pictures of the horrible conditions in the mines and of Congolese victims of violence, the presentation featured a diagram of an iPhone. It showed what parts of it contain which minerals, and left students with the clear impression that they are carrying around Congolese minerals in their pockets, and that this was what drives the conflict in the DRC.

Back in December, Enough's David Sullivan ran a post suggesting that I had constructed a straw man with regards to this issue. I forwarded his post to a knowledgeable friend, who replied, "Have they read their own reports?" Indeed, Enough's own advocacy materials belie that claim. Take, for example, John Prendergast's April 2009 "Can You Hear Congo Now?" piece:
The time has come to expose a sinister reality: Our insatiable demand for electronics products such as cell phones and laptops is helping fuel waves of sexual violence in a place that most of us will never go, affecting people most of us will never meet.
Or Prendergast's May 2009 testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations:
But one of the biggest drivers of the conflict—and on in which most Americans are unknowingly but directly involved—has long been clear: competition over the extraordinary natural resource base.
Or videos like this.

Anyone encountering these materials without prior knowledge of the situation quickly comes to the conclusion that cell phones cause rape. There's no way around it, and for Enough to claim otherwise is disingenuous at best.The fact that only a small percentage of the minerals used in cell phones actually come from the DRC, that the region is largely at peace now, and that the situation defies easy solutions, if mentioned at all, is typically buried in the group's more complex reports, or brushed aside.

I will say that the advocates have gotten better at mentioning this complexity over time, but the bulk of their materials are still very misleading, and give advocates the impression that this small step will make a big difference in the situation. Also, it's not a good sign when even experts who support your position and whom you cite agree that you've oversimplified the message.

Look, I get it. It's not easy to build up an advocacy platform around such a complicated situation. I recognize that a real explanation of the DRC's problems won't fit nicely onto a t-shirt or a bumper sticker - or even in a blog post. Some simplification is necessary in order to reach a broader audience. I get it. But the problem arises when simplification results in distortion, which is exactly what has happened here.

This is probably why, despite being able to claim support at the national level from the country's Catholic bishops and a civil society organization or two, the conflict minerals platform lacks meaningful support from most CSO's in the Kivus.

Why does it matter if Enough focused the debate too narrowly? Blattman closes his analysis with a key point:
You also have to consider unintended consequences. What if victory on a high-profile, sexy, but ultimately limited issue keeps Congress from acting on the important things? If the price of victory is complacency, it is a price too dear.
Bad facts lead to bad policy. My fear is that, as a direct result of Enough's narrowly focused advocacy campaign, Congress will now think it has taken sufficient action to end the conflict in the eastern DRC. That couldn't be further from the truth.

There's also the problem of the likely disillusionment of advocates here. I give Enough a lot of credit for mobilizing grassroots effort around the DRC. But as they've focused on the wrong lever for moving towards peace, what's going to happen to those grassroots actors if and when this legislation doesn't change the situation? Odds are they'll move on to the next sexy advocacy movement, wherever that may be.

Everybody involved in this debate wants the same thing: to end violence in the eastern Congo. I want to believe that Enough's leadership and staff began their campaign with the best of intentions. But by overstating the extent to which American consumers are actually using Congolese conflict minerals - and the extent to which it is actually possible to change the way minerals are traded there - they've given Congress, the Congolese government, and the electronics companies an easy way out. All three groups will come out looking good here, while Congolese government officials will continue to benefit from the mineral trade, electronics companies will source the tiny percentages of Congolese materials they've been using elsewhere, and Congress won't feel obligated to support meaningful security sector reform, help sort out the country's land tenure issues, or significantly fund the hundreds of Congolese civil society organizations that have been working for years to bring about meaningful change in the region.

When it came down to it, Enough decided that the minerals issue made a compelling story that would result in action. The problem is that it's the wrong kind of action. Which, from where I sit, makes it look like an awful waste.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What makes you think Congress was working on security sector reform before Enough's campaign? And, do you have any evidence that Congress - or those interested members - will forget about Congo once the minerals legislation is passed? Experience on Sudan suggests the opposite. Mobilization on the genocide resolution, UN peacekeeping and divestment has had important spillover effects. More money for aid of all kinds. More interest in what the Special Envoy is doing. More interest in a peacemaking strategy. More interest in Chad, CAR, the neighborhood. Much, much more interest in implementation of the CPA.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010 9:45:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was involved with the enough project's student chapter (Stand) in college, but eventually left because of disagreements with their manipulative approach to student activism. To be honest, the experience left me pretty cynical that there is anything at all helpful that the American Congress can effectively do to intervene in situations of dehumanizing violence outside of our borders besides writing checks (not to downplay the importance of international aid).

Yet you write: "My fear is that, as a direct result of Enough's narrowly focused advocacy campaign, Congress will now think it has taken sufficient action to end the conflict in the eastern DRC. That couldn't be further from the truth."

By this, are you implying that there is some more effective action that Congress can and should take?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010 9:55:00 AM

Anonymous Lauren said...

To the first anonymous commenter, I would say we don't know that Congress wouldn't be giving more aid, wouldn't be interested in the Envoy's work, wouldn't be interested in CPA implementation were the Darfur/Sudan advocates so successful in drawing Congressional attention to the genocide resolution, PKOs, and divestment.

There are Senators and Members of Congress who are interested in issues like Somalia, like political prisoners in Ethiopia, all without having the full force of a grassroots campaign rain down upon their offices. Policy at the Congressional and agency levels can be influenced by direct advocacy and expert testimony. Appropriations, too. These same lawmakers will continue to be interested in SSR in the DRC after Enough. Their numbers will dwindle, but it's always more about the chairmen anyway. Feingold and Payne, for better or worse, aren't going to stop holding hearings on the DRC once the minerals bill passes. It will then be important for policy advocates to remain engaged with Congress and State.

Congress won't feel obligated to ... significantly fund the hundreds of Congolese civil society organizations that have been working for years to bring about meaningful change in the region.

If we ever figure this out, I'll happily close up my advocacy organization and pull shots at Starbucks. This is, I think, a much larger issue of modernizing foreign aid, as it were.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010 10:29:00 AM

Anonymous Will said...

I am not clear on why or how the small market share of DRC mining interests has anything to do with the effectiveness of restrictions on trade. Being a small player makes such moves more effective right? because DRC-based production has less market power? To my knowledge, sanctions and restrictions are considerably more feasible when the target has less control over a market, mostly because there is no need for rationing on the buyer's side.

Also, the 3Ts are all produced in large quantities in the BRIC countries. I think it is quite likely that Brazil, Russia and China would be for reducing competition in markets they already dominate. India is the only one that would appear to not have many incentives to control trade without some sort of added benefit.

An interesting analysis, I think, would include some evidence covering the degree to which groups are invested in production. To what extent one group will become relatively more powerful than others due to changes in the market is very pertinent to future trends, at least, if there is anything to the idea in the first place.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010 11:14:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just wondering why no one is mentioning the other parts of this bill (aside from the reporting and auditing requirements). It also calls for the State Department to implement a strategy that will improve governance of the mining sector in Congo (which is a good thing and badly needed). Why no consideration of these other elements?

Also, I think you should divorce the attack on Enough from the critique of the conflict minerals bill. It’s true that ENOUGH has engaged in some very misleading advocacy but that shouldn’t be used to detract from a bill that has quite a few merits. Enough might have spoken the loudest but they were not the only voice on this issue. Considerable reflection and solicitation of expertise went into this bill and it should be assessed based on its content, not on the advocacy tactics that Enough used to support it.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010 2:56:00 PM

Anonymous Scott said...

Will is right. Everything else aside, you all (Wronging Rights, Blattman, Fahey) keep making a mistake. The size of the DRC's mineral production as a proportion of global sales is IRRELEVANT. What matters is the size of the importers subject to the legislation as a proprotion of the DRC export market. Even if the DRC is 0.000001% of global output, if a very large percentage of their customers are pushing for responsible supply chain management, that is what matters. In other words, imagine you produce widgets. And imagine that you are a tiny percentage of the global market. But then imagine that 90% of the widget buyers want red widgets instead of blue widgets. That certainly might influence your business strategy, regardless of the fact that you are very small. This calls for correction.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010 6:08:00 PM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

Anon @9:45, I never said Congress was working on security sector reform in the DRC ever. Which is the problem.

Will & Scott, the problems with that argument are twofold: 1) Yes, this might influence producers' strategies, but there are plenty of buyers who won't be affected by this legislation and aren't likely to care. 2) The assumption that these supply chains will actually work is hugely unfounded. I don't know either of you, so I don't know whether you have experience in the DRC, but the extent to which it's possible to pay off anyone for anything there is remarkable. There's just no way these minerals will actually be stopped from making their way onto the global markets, regardless of whether they're certified conflict-free or not.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010 6:27:00 PM

Anonymous Scott said...

Those are two reasonable arguments. This is what I was objecting to:
"especially given the relatively small percentage of the world's supply of these minerals that come from the DRC (As Dan Fahey notes, the DRC produces a very small percentage of the world's supply of all of the 3T minerals - the probability that most of us are carrying around Congolese minerals in our cell phones is actually pretty slim)" which is irrelevant. If you are going to go after people for bad facts, you have to correct your own bad logic.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010 8:22:00 PM

Blogger katelmax said...

You are absolutely correct that Enough, and other advocacy groups, focus on the conflict minerals narratives. This past year your favorite warrior, Eve Ensler's Vagina Monologues featured a spotlight piece on the DRC. In the introduction, minerals were specifically mentioned (as well as in an "informative" presentation for all those involved in the monologues.)

When I asked that the mention of conflict minerals be removed from the introduction, citing lack of proof, the overarching Vagina Authority (whoever that may be) told our director it was crucial to the narrative.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010 8:57:00 PM

Anonymous CVI said...

Texas in Africa: The reason why people get shirty over this issue – and go out of their way to make counter points to you – is not because they necessarily disagree with your criticisms, but because they understand what the Enough project is trying to point out: the fact that some of the minerals (even a tiny fraction) that are found in our consumer goods pay for war. This makes consumers complicit, and because of this, responsible. Responsibility in a globalised world means refusing to buy materials that have conflict minerals in them. Legislation ensures this.

Its really, really simple.

But it seems like that is exactly what annoys you, because you feel like someone has simplified something that you are an expert it. Of course they did, but the advocacy is not aimed at academics ‘who have been to the DRC’, its aimed at a wider audience who know nothing about SSR but are concerned about potentially fuelling conflict.

On balance, is the Enough advocacy a bad thing?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010 4:59:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If i am being kind Laura you have not done even the basic research needed to comment on the issue of conflict minerals in the DRC.

That is the mineral supply and demand of the conflict minerals themselves. If i am unkind i would say you are deliberately misleading people, a charge you are happy to make against Enough.

"I'd argue that Enough has misled advocates and policy makers" and so on.

"According to the USGS, ... 3.8% of the worlds tin....8.6% of the worlds tantalum". I follow these minerals and have done for long enough to know your whole argument that Enough is exaggerating the level of demand of these minerals from the DRC is basically flawed and hence you whole argument falls down at the first step.

Anyone who quotes the USGS as Gospel on the DRC mineral figures needs there head read unless they are totally new to the subject and do not know any better.

Any decent level of research shows that the USGS has consistently underestimated the supply of minerals from the DRC by a huge margin, for years and years.

Enough if anything are underestimating the level of tin and tantalum from the DRC by being slightly too cautious. Looking at your comments it is probably lucky they are doing so Lol.

One reason they could be doing that is that they do not want to over emphasize the importance but use the issue as a lever to generate change in the DRC over a multitude of issues.

Hardly a waste as the DRC is suddenly less of a invisible issue since Enough's involvement.

If you were doing the basic continuing research to comment sensibly on conflict minerals, you would see that where tin and tantalum are involved "demand shock" is already happening.

Which can be seen be the increase in price for these minerals, again some basic research which you should have done.

"Which, from where I sit, makes it look like an awful waste."

The awful waste is that you are going to slow down progress in the DRC on this issue and others that campaigners might want to move onto to help in the DRC, if you have not done so already.

Other critic's can say that they add to the argument and help the whole debate and so improve the efficiency of actions taken to help in the DRC.

However you are so wrong you are actually diminishing peoples understanding of the subject and giving opponents to any change in the DRC a flag to rally behind.

You should do the research needed to get a basic understanding of the mineral side of the conflict mineral debate.

Do not take what U.S.G.S, I.T.R.I, E.I.C,T.I.C, Apple, various governments, assorted "experts" like Dan Fahey or Resource Consulting Services or the charity industry say as a correct with out a lot of double checking.

If i was starting from scratch it would take make about eight months to a year to get to the stage where i thought i could blog (that is assuming i did little else and was not trying to be a expert on multiple other issues).

Hope you do the research needed and meanwhile refrain from misinformation on the percentages of minerals coming from the DRC you have been using to sustain your whole argument.

Think you have a blind spot on the whole issue and cannot see the damage you could do.

Which could outweigh the good you may have done blogging on other subjects. Which really would be a waste.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010 5:44:00 AM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

Anon @5:44, yep, the fourteen years I've spent studying the DRC, the multiple consultations with experts on the mineral trade, the part where I actually lived in the eastern Congo, the interviews with hundreds of Congolese civil society leaders, reading hundreds and hundreds of books, writing articles, presenting papers, oh, and following this specific debate from its earliest days - you're right. Obviously I'm totally unqualified to comment. But at least I'm willing to put my name on what I have to say.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010 9:36:00 AM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

Scott, I'm not meaning to argue that the size of the global market matters, but rather that Enough has made it sound as though we're ALL carrying around Congolese conflict minerals in all our cell phones and other consumer electronics. Which, given the very small market share, is highly improbable. Making consumers think they are responsible for the problems in DRC is a catchy slogan, but it's not entirely accurate.

CVI, I think this is a very important point, and I've tried to acknowledge that advocates by necessity have to simplify the message. The problem arises when the simplification leads to simplistic policies, which, in turn, are highly unlikely to make much of a difference when it comes to the dynamics of conflict in the eastern DRC.

I'm of the view that misguided advocacy can actually be more harmful than no advocacy at all. Whether Enough has done long-term good, harm, or just wasted money remains to be seen. I'd hope that the advocates who became engaged because of the conflict minerals issue would be willing to look forward to the significantly more complicated work that's necessary to bring lasting peace to the region.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010 9:44:00 AM

Blogger friends of congo said...

The issue is not the validity of the data emanating from the USGS. Should anyone talk to the researchers at the USGS and inquire about the methodology used for arriving at their numbers, one would quickly recognize that the numbers are arbitrary at best, especially regarding African countries.

A far more compelling aspect of the debate over the past few weeks is how it has been confined to so-called conflict minerals. In this respect ENOUGH has succeeded for the time being. They have been able to present to the predominantly white American audience the misanthropic message of savage Africans raping and killing as the primary driver of the conflict. American consumers then become best placed to save and raise hope for the African brute through conscious consumerism. The savage African and white savior narrative, which Nick Kristof calls “bridge character” work without fail.

This narrative eschews the main external drivers of the conflict and the devastating role that US foreign policy (the same type of foreign policy that resulted in Nelson Mandela being on the US terrorist list as late as 2008) and Western corporate practices have played in not only the conflict but the maintenance of the structural barriers of dependency and impoverishment in the heart of Africa. Hence the narrative is not the role that the US foreign policy has played in backing and bolstering strongmen while suppressing and sidelining non-violent democratic forces --
1961 assassination of Lumumba
1965 - 1997 - Installation and maintenance of Mobutu
1996 & 1998 - backing of the invasions of Congo by the Clinton administration "renaissance leaders"
2006 - facilitating the legitimization of Jospeh Kabila (see ICG Consolidating the Peace - http://tinyurl.com/icgpeace)

Nor is the 14 years of pilfering by foreign multinationals even broached while companies such as the below stand to reap billions in profits for the next generation while Congolese wallow in misery and poverty
- Rangold
- AngloGold Ashanti
- Banro

Two "mainstream" scholars who have dealt forthright with US Foreign Policy and the role of foreign multinationals in the Congo are Timothy Reid, “Killing Them Softly: Has Foreign Aid to Rwanda and Uganda Contributed to the Humanitarian Tragedy in the Democratic Republic of Congo?” published in the Harvard Africa Policy Journal of the John F. Kennedy School of Government and Dena Montague's Stolen Goods: Coltan and Conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo SAIS Review - Volume 22, Number 1, Winter-Spring 2002, pp. 103-118.

Chief UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Gutterres' proclamation to the Financial Times in 2008 still obtains "The International Community has systematically looted the Congo."

The Congo is too rich and too strategically located for it to be left alone by the Great Powers and no amount of SSR will change this fact. The central question is will we challenge these forces that have kept Congo dependent and impoverished for the past 125 years.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010 10:08:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Texas at @ 9:36 you are still not willing to admit you are totally wrong about the amount of tantalum and tin coming from the DRC.

Which means your argument is totally wrong. If you have done the amount of research you claim it just means you have less excuse for getting the basic facts wrong.

Obviously you are avoiding the point as you cannot answer it.

"Which, given the very small market share, is highly..."
Totally inaccurate more tantalum is coming from the DRC than any other source.

Even other opponents of Enough and Global witness, in the industry are shifting the argument to the fact that there cannot be a crackdown on tantalum from the DRC as it makes up too high a percentage of world supply.

Wrong of course but shows what a nonsense your 8.6% quoted figure is.

Also you are avoiding the fact of the increase in price of tantalum is showing "demand shock" is already happening. Another point you are avoiding answering.

"Sasha, I'd love to see a response from you or someone else involved in this effort on the points on which the vast majority of academic experts on the DRC and you guys clearly disagree, namely:

-the overstatement of the importance of DRC minerals on global markets"

Now it is suddenly "I'm not meaning to argue that the size of the global market matters," When someone comes on here and points out you are wrong.

"Bad facts lead to bad policy" to quote you again. The facts you are putting forward about the level of tantalum supply are simply wrong and wrong by a big margin.

Sorry i do not belong to Enough or Global witness or am a "academic expert". However you still cannot answer a simple point, but then i guess if you were able to answer it honestly and accurately it would undermine your whole case.

“Conflict Minerals” in Ituri noticed you have ignored a posters points about Apple guess he or she made the mistake of being Anonymous as well Lol.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010 5:40:00 PM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

Anon, as I'm an academic, I have a hard time just taking the word of an anonymous source for it when he or she says that numbers are inaccurate. Cite sources. Give hard data and show where you got it. I've talked at length on this blog about data problems in Africa and am always looking for ways to get better data.

Thursday, August 12, 2010 8:51:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Laura Seay,

"the multiple consultations with experts on the mineral trade,.. reading hundreds and hundreds of books,"

Now are you trying to say you have not come across sources that show you are totally wrong and are always looking for ways to get better data?

All the information is in the public domain. Very tempted to just say do your own research, especially as you have been unable or unwilling to answer my points.
However lets start with the tantalum price since the campaign against conflict minerals has picked up steam, which is hardly a secret.



"Fluminense recently sold 200,000 lbs of tantalum to a Chinese buyer for a price of $80 per pound."
Even if you were brand new to the subject today you could pick up this information.

"8.6% of the worlds tantalum" this is so ridiculous hard to know where even to start. How about you give information on where the other 91.4 percent is presently coming from starting with Fluminense in Brazil, one of the few significant produces of tantalum ore outside Africa left.

Which you must know about if your have a opinion on how much tantalum ore is DRC and how much is not.

Of course you must have a list somewhere of every non DRC miner producing over 200000lbs (a handful).

Otherwise you would not have any clue about the percentage of world supply the DRC makes up.
I will let you get it out and total the figures up and see how close it gets to your figure of non DRC figure of 91.4 percent.

Know you will find it a lot closer to the amount Enough and Global witness have hinted at than your quoted figure.

That will save you as a academic from worrying about whether i am giving you inaccurate information. Hope this is less of a inconvenience than Naomi Campbell had to put up with lol.

However as you said.
"This is really important, and it's an area in which I'd argue that Enough has misled advocates and policy makers by overstating the importance of Congolese minerals in the global economy,"

Agree the issue is important, have my doubts you are capable of admitting you are wrong on the subject though and have been wrong for a long time.


Thursday, August 12, 2010 11:23:00 AM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

Anon, I'm very unclear as to how the sources you cite support the argument you're making. And as you're unwilling to identify yourself, I have no way of evaluating whether to take your claims seriously.

Thursday, August 12, 2010 5:35:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Laura,

Very very simple adding up the tantalum from outside the DRC shows how little is being produced and that the DRC makes up a very significant supply.

Easy for you to do if you trust your own research. Are you now saying you do not trust your own research?

The tantalum price movements also show is how big the supply is from the DRC.

Shows both the "demand shock" and the nonsense argument of only a small percentage of Tantalum supply coming from the DRC.

Undermines your whole argument if you can call it a argument when you can only quote the nonsensical USGS figures.

"Among his points, he notes that the question of whether a demand shock will actually occur is wide open, especially given the relatively small percentage of the world's supply of these minerals that come from the DRC"

http://www.passivecomponentmagazine.com/current-issue.asp Update: July 2010

"The lead time index for passive components showed a remarkable increase in tantalum capacitor...

"Such a large increase in tantalum capacitor lead-times was not expected, but is most likely linked to new US legislation banning the sourcing of tantalum from the Congo." If you look at the data in the E mag you will see why he says that.

"deliveries out of Africa and looking at the import statistics of China, which is by far the country with the biggest imports of Ta ores, the portion originating from Africa increased significantly in recent years" Figure 4.1 page 10

"the multiple consultations with experts on the mineral trade" , "I have no way of evaluating whether to take your claims seriously."

Love the way you are constantly contradicting yourself. You have plenty of ways of checking the information i have posted you know it and i know it.

"Cite sources. Give hard data and show where you got it." Well i have done all that now it is your turn do the same to support your claims that underpin your whole argument...

"This is really important, and it's an area in which I'd argue that Enough has misled advocates and policy makers by overstating the importance of Congolese minerals in the global economy,"

"he notes that the question of whether a demand shock will actually occur is wide open, especially given the relatively small percentage of the world's supply of these minerals that come from the DRC"

"the DRC produces a very small percentage of the world's supply of all of the 3T minerals"

"It showed what parts of it contain which minerals, and left students with the clear impression that they are carrying around Congolese minerals in their pockets,"

"But by overstating the extent to which American consumers are actually using Congolese conflict minerals"

"electronics companies will source the tiny percentages of Congolese materials"

"Congo is not a major global producer of “The 3 Ts and Gold”

You are the blogger the "expert", where is the "hard data" to support your arguments?

Do not worry even though i am a nobody, i will be capable of evaluating it, even if you change your name to Donald Duck Lol.

O, be some other name!
What's in a name?
That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet

Have a nice break.

Friday, August 13, 2010 9:43:00 AM

Blogger James North said...

I first came across John Prendergast on the Darfur question, where on closer inspection he turned out to be guilty of gross simplification and distortion.
Then, people like Laura and others exposed him for the same thing on conflict minerals.
Isn't it time someone took a closer look at him? How can he be consistently wrong, about subjects where we have genuine experts? What is his real aim?

Saturday, August 14, 2010 7:58:00 AM

Anonymous Will said...

Thanks Laura, for clarifying your point about the size of the market. I am interested in the question as it relates to the feasibility of economic constraints more generally, mostly because it is a stickier question when strategic reserves are needed to maintain production while imposing restrictions and so forth.

anon 9:43:00...could you please give some competing market power estimates to support your argument? Your one source is...not a good one, and the author does not estimate reserves or production in any case.

The author mistakenly points out that tantalum sourcing in the DRC was banned (oops), and estimates prices for tantalum based on an informal interview(s). The author gives no hint as to the methodology this feat entailed (but still gives prices for specific days precisely, impressive!). Forgive me if I question the credibility of an argument seemingly supported only by an alleged interview and the author's opinion. The author also conflates market prices with prices quoted in interviews, which seems a bit sketchy as we are not told who or where the buyers are in the supply chain, and have to assume that they represent the same group that would be buying on a market exchange.

So far I have not seen any other estimates that are more reliable than those of the USGS, and would be very interested to hear what exactly you do not like about their methods.

Monday, August 16, 2010 8:15:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nothing much wrong with my source Will he has to sell his research to the industry so it has to be good.

Also confirmed by other research i did not quote from.

Where he has made mistakes in the past it is underestimating the DRC supply. However in his defence had to be extra cautious considering who is likely to buy his research.

He simply cannot afford to over estimate tantalum supply from the DRC and upset his customers who buy his research.

Author has talked about reserves previously assuming you mean tantalum capacitors?

The USA sold its main tantalum reserves of course.

If you go here and look you will see he has to have much better sources of information than the USGS or he would not have lasted all these years.

The new laws are mentioned further in the E mag.

Already put information on tantalum in previous post..

"Fluminense recently sold 200,000 lbs of tantalum to a Chinese buyer for a price of $80 per pound."

"Ron Gilerman, managing director at A&R Merchants,
which trades tantalum and other exotic metals, said the
prices out of Brazil were at $80 per pound (on July 19th).
He said another 50% increase in prices across the board
in 2011 is in the offing."

Last bit in Mag looks close to the Chinese off-take deal.

Author has of course contacts throughout the industry to find out the tantalum price and there are subscription services to get daily prices.

And "Tantalite is estimated based upon primary interviews with
those actually buying the metal."

Where Tantalite price is talked about it usually means the price of ore of 30% percent purity.

Processed tantalum metal (99%) is of course a much higher price.
Where spot price is discussed it is usually at the end or near the end of the supply chain of course.

The USGS has historically drastically underestimated the supply from the DRC.

Could give you a answer with more detail but it would be a very long one and is better posted when Laura comes back.

If she is still supporting the 8.6% of the world’s tantalum supply coming from the DRC.

Would not be surprised if she no longer supports this figure in the future, if she does some more research.

So not to much point getting into a big discussion now. Also might be a idea to hold any discussion over till she is here to put her side of the argument and give her a chance to answer points already raised.

Which is why i am just covering the points raised in your last post (with out to much elaboration) as they were addressed to me and did not reply to James Norths post.

Monday, August 16, 2010 2:22:00 PM


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