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Updated response to AMC on Congo report

12th August 2009

On July 21 2009 Global Witness published a report on the militarisation of mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo called ‘Faced with a gun, what can you do?'.

One of the companies named in the report as buying minerals from suppliers whose middle men had been trading with armed groups was Thailand-based THAISARCO, a subsidiary of British company Amalgamated Metals Corporation (AMC).

Following the publication of the report, AMC were quoted by a number of media outlets as being "disappointed with the number of inaccuracies and omissions in the report" (AFP, July 22).

AFP, Al Jazeera, the BBC and Metals Bulletin, were among the media outlets that were provided with a statement by AMC, to which they referred in their coverage of the report and in interviews with Global Witness spokespeople.

Global Witness wrote to AMC on July 23 requesting a copy of the statement. Following a further two requests, AMC sent a short email on August 3, in which they stated that Global Witness's claims that THAISARCO purchased wolframite and coltan were "simply incorrect".

The email went on to say: "THAISARCO is a tin smelter and it does not and never has purchased Coltan or Wolframite.  If Comptoir Panju exported these minerals in 2007 (page 97 of your report) they were not exported to THAISARCO."

Gavin Hayman, Global Witness Campaigns Director said: "Global Witness used official Congolese government statistics to inform our report. We have official documents which clearly state that Panju sold coltan to Thaisarco in April 2008. If AMC thinks these documents are inaccurate then we believe they should inform the Congolese government."

AMC did not provide any other information about the "inaccuracies" or "omissions" in the email they sent to Global Witness. In other media reports however, they were quoted as referring to their membership of an industry initiative designed to increase supply chain transparency - known as the ITRI supply chain initiative.

Hayman: "Global Witness has seen the ITRI proposal, and we were consulted on its design. We sent ITRI an extremely detailed response in which we suggested improvements to make the initiative more effective and highlighted a number of concerns (also outlined in our press statement of July 24).  

"In light of these concerns, we don't believe it is enough for AMC to suggest that their membership of the ITRI working group is sufficient to allay the concerns raised by Global Witness, the UN and others about the need for more rigorous due diligence procedures."

AMC also warned that stopping operations in the DRC would be harmful for Congolese citizens who rely on the trade to make living.

Hayman: "Global Witness is not calling for companies to pull out - as we state very clearly in the report, and again in our statement of 24 July. However, we do believe that companies could do a lot more to ensure that their operations are not directly or indirectly supporting armed groups. In doing so, they would be helping Congolese citizens, including artisanal miners."

/ Ends

For more information: www.globalwitness.org/faced_with_a_gun (report and full references)

Contact: Amy Barry on +44 7980 664397; +44 207 5616358; abarry@globalwitness.org