Beyond Unethical: Corporations Profit Billions from Abusing Congolese While the World Stands Idly By

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

Watch Video: Glencore Linked to Acid Waterfall in DR Congo

Watch Video: Glencore Linked to Acid Waterfall in DR Congo

DRC’s soil is reputed to contain every mineral listed on the periodic table in large, untapped amounts. On top of that, 80% of the minerals that fuel our technology, cell phones, electronics, cars, and computers come from Congo. Yet, DRC is the world’s poorest country and least developed in terms of life expectancy, education, standard of living and key health indicators. While multinational corporations and governments exploit and maltreat Congolese to make our phones turn on or cars run, we as consumers also have played a complicit role in the devastating fate of Congo’s plight.

The largest commodities company in the world, Glencore, has used children as young as ten to recover cobalt and copper 150 feet underground hand dug shafts with no breathing or protective equipment in Tilwezembe mine in the Congo.

“All the way down there are ghostly-looking figures digging for copper, coated in choking grey dust. There are no safety standards. No one wears a hard hat. In the midst of all this, there are some boys working with bare hands and bare feet. We saw boys standing waist deep in toxic water, washing soil away from nuggets of copper.” John Sweeney, BBC Panorama investigation

The number of accidents at Tilwezembe is extraordinarily high: Panorama was told that 60 miners died there last year, making the mine one of the most dangerous in the world. One 16-year-old said accidents were commonplace and fatal rockfalls routine.

The notoriously secretive Swiss-based company and reportedly the supplier of 50 percent of the world’s copper, Glencore PLC, is also accused of dumping raw acid and toxic waste from their Luilu refinery straight into the local river 24/7.

The Luilu river is used by local people to wash and fish, but downstream of the Glencore pipe the water is acidic, extremely dangerous, brown sludge, according to a Panorama investigation. They tested the acidity of the wastewater and found a pH value of 1.9, where 1 is pure acid and 7 neutral.

Glencore’s acid waterfall stank of toxic fumes when BBC reporter John Sweeney visited a few weeks ago. One local Congolese complained:

“Fish can’t survive the acid. Glencore lacks any respect for people. No one would do that to another human being. It’s shocking.”

While children’s lives and the environment are severely botched and damaged, Glencore said it wants to raise its total investments in the Congo to 3.3 billion dollars by the end of the year. The company is hoping to merge with Xstrata, another mining company based in Switzerland, to create a behemoth with $90 billion in assets.

Two Swiss NGOs, Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund and Bread for All published its findings on Glencore’s unethical practices April 16 as a followup to an earlier report when Glencore was listed on the stock market in 2011. Without the diligent devotion of these NGOs and activists like ourselves, we would be in the dark not only be about the horrible injustices committed by corporations but also our complicit roles in their actions.

It’s hard to even describe the horror and heart-wrenching sentiment I feel toward these corporations that kill for money. How low can we go? Not only did Glencore take in $186 billion in revenue last year, but its founder, Marc Rich who has been on FBI’s Top Ten list but was pardoned by President Bill Clinton in 2001.

Our actions and heavily-technology-dependent tendencies have profound impacts on populations halfway across the globe.

One Response to Beyond Unethical: Corporations Profit Billions from Abusing Congolese While the World Stands Idly By

  1. Pingback: Money makes the world go round « A soul for humanity

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