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Colombia to seize major tungsten mine run by terrorists

Colombia to seize major tungsten mine run by terrorists

Colombian soldiers patrol an area controlled by the FARC.  (Image courtesy of AllVoices.com)

The Colombian government is preparing a raid to seize and close a major illegal tungsten mine run by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which is said to have supplied top multinational companies, including BMW, Volkswagen, Samsung and Apple.

According to Radio RCN (in Spanish), security forces are being deployed to an area of the Amazon jungle under the FARC’s control, known as Cerro Tigre, or Tiger Hill, in the eastern Guainía department.

Tungsten is a super-hard, heat-resistant metal that is used inside car engines, computer screens, phones, tablets, televisions, and also in the oil industry.

The planned raid on Tiger Hill comes on the hills of the European Union decision to impose tough laws to prevent businesses from buying gold and other minerals that fund the conflict in Colombia.

The Caribbean country is not alone. In the past few years illegal mining has spread through Latin America. Countries such as Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela, Bolivia and even Brazil, are currently said to be obtaining higher profits from the unlicensed activity than from drug trafficking, an illicit activity that used to generate profits in the area.

Global intervention

In an effort to curb the imports of tainted minerals from places like the Congo and the Andean countries, the US and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) passed last year a set of strict rules requiring manufacturers to report from where they get its tantalum, tin, gold or tungsten. It also forces companies to disclose payments made to overseas governments to develop natural gas.

While the ruling goes into effect in 2014, more than a third of US firms are absolutely unprepared to adopt it, revealed a poll conducted in April during the IHS webinar “The Clock’s Ticking: How to Comply with the New Conflict Minerals Regulations.”

What’s more, the US biggest manufacturing trade groups — the Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable— began an ongoing court battle against the SEC, aimed to stop the rule from taking effect.

No decision on the topic has been made to date.