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Culprits or scapegoats? Revisiting the role of Belgian mineral traders in eastern DRC

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Ever since the eruption of the second Congo war in August 1998, the mining sector in eastern DRC has been under scrutiny of UN Sanctions Committees, academics, NGOs, and local and international media, who have been worried and disturbed by the links between natural resource exploitation and armed conflict in the region. It has been argued that both state and non-state armed actors are deriving benefit from the local mining business by levying taxes on mineral exports, by selling minerals for their own profit, and by trading mining rights for financial and military support.

The present report aims to clarify the position of Belgian mineral traders in the area. The purpose of the report is not only to shed more light on the activities of Trademet and Traxys, the two companies featuring in the latest UN report, but also to discuss the activities of two other companies that have received no attention so far, namely Services and Trading International (STI) and Société pour le Développement et l’Expansion d’Entreprises (SDE).

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