A national coltan competitive cluster in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is a formal, large-scale framework through which an inclusive,localized economic system can emerge. It can be designed to benefit key stakeholders, including artisanal miners, communities, government, large companies, and consumers. However, this business ecosystemtakes years to implement. On the other hand, there are alternative business models that can evolve to a full coltan competitive cluster but begin to operate within a year or two. One of thesealternative business models focuses on informal miners and purchase counters.
There already exists a chain of artisanal miners in the DRC, who extract coltan manually. Many of these miners are ill-equipped,ill-trained and exploited whether they extract coltan that ends up on the open or black market. This is a scenario that in no way leads to sustainable livelihoods and communities.
However, it can betransformed to a doable business model for the entire coltan value chain, using this grassroots, informal supply chain. Imagine trading posts of long ago where miners and trappers brought the fruit oftheir labor to trade for supplies and coin. In the modern context, we can use purchase counters as “trading posts” with a new twist. The miners are already selling, or trading, the extracted coltanto someone. Why not set up government-approved purchase counters that purchase the coltan directly from miners?
This straightforward business model can usher in many different improvements todistribute benefits throughout the coltan value chain. Strategic mineral resources can be applied to the benefit of the broader Congolese population as recommended in the report, “A Comprehensive Approach toCongo’s Conflict Minerals” by the Enough Project. The DRC government can allocate a certain number of strategic mineral deposits that provide opportunities for informal miners to use manual...