American coltan processing company, Cabot Corporation recently released a press statement declaring that they are conflict free. One supposes they could be conflict free by sourcing their minerals strictly from Australia. However, Cabot took their conflict free claim into questionable territory when they intimated that they had been conflict free for ten years. Cabot’s press statement noted, “We are pleased that our customers now have independent confirmation that Cabot is a reliable supplier of ethically sourced tantalum products. Over the last decade, we have maintained a strict policy of purchasing raw materials only from ethical, non-conflict sources and this audit result is confirmation of our long-standing commitment in this area.”
In spite, of Cabot’s claims, they were identified in the 2002 United Nations report on the illegal exploitation of Congo’s natural resources as one of the companies illegally exploiting Congo’s natural wealth. See list of companies named by the United Nations here! The March/April 2002 issues of Passive Component Industry page 8 reports “African ore sales are also made directly to Cabot Corporation, tracked via IM145 shipment data from Africa to Pennsylvania, where Cabot maintains its tantalum processing plant.”
Based on this evidence, international NGOs, Friends of the Earth (FOE) and Rights and Accountability in International Development filed a complaint against Cabot and three other American companies (OM Group, Trinitech Holdings, Eagle Wings), calling on the State Department’s National Contact Point to investigate Cabot and the other companies for possibly violating OECD guidelines and fueling the conflict in the Congo.
The October 1, 2010 UN Mapping Exercise Report said that the victims of Congo’s conflict are entitled to reparations from the multi-national corporations implicated in the conflict in the Congo. Congolese are adamant about pursuing justice for the over six million lives lost in the scramble for Congo’s minerals.
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