"60 Minutes" Reports on DRC Conflict, Gold

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"The people are destitute. But the Congo is the Saudi Arabia of minerals."

A report aired nationally on the television news magazine "60 Minutes" Sunday by CBS News called for the monitoring of conflict gold in the Democratic Republic of Congo, based upon the already established Kimberley Process for conflict or blood diamonds.

In a recently released statement, the Jewelers of American organization warned the piece would "'attempt to call the integrity of the entire gold jewelry supply into question, ‘portraying the jewelry industry as having failed to act responsibly in the face of a well-documented, ongoing crisis."

Interestingly, the report by "60 Minutes" correspondent Scott Pelley, which was actually compiled several months ago, was aired at this time to coincide with the recent records set in gold prices. However, "60 Minutes" did not mention that the airing of the story also coincides with a battle now underway in the Canadian Parliament over a bill that would allow Canadian officials to monitor and report on alleged human rights violations by Canadian mining companies internationally.

"Gold and other minerals are funding the deadliest war since World War II," Pelley said. "More than five million people have died in the Democratic Republic of Congo."

Joining Pelley on a visit to an artisanal gold mine in Eastern Congo was Anneke Van Woudenberg of Human Rights Watch, who authored the 2005 report, "The Curse of Gold." When the document was issued, it accused AngloGold Ashanti of allegedly providing assistance to DRC warlords, a charge AngloGold denied. The company did admit it yielded to militia extortion, however.

The report also revealed how Metalor bought the DRC gold from, Uganda. The company responded it had believed the gold was of legal origin, and suspended gold purchases from Uganda.

In his report, Pelley noted, "The people are destitute. But the Congo is the Saudi Arabia of minerals. In addition to gold, the earth is loaded with metals such as tin, copper, and something called coltan that is essential to the circuits in computer and cell phones."

"60 Minutes" called DRC mining "an inexhaustible wealth of misery."

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