A GlobalPost story published Dec. 3 about a United Nations report on the export of minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo contained inaccuracies. The U.N. report does not, as the headline and several paragraphs of the story stated, name the American company Niotan Inc. as a direct buyer of conflict minerals from Congo. That story has been removed from the GlobalPost website.
The U.N. report mentions the Nevada-based Niotan Inc. in connection to John Crawley, who is a director of the company. Crawley, the report says, is also a director of the Hong Kong-based Refractory Metals Mining Company Ltd. (RMMC), which was formerly called Niotan Ltd. On the same street in Hong Kong is another company, African Ventures Ltd. (AVL), which the report says was set up by Crawley's father. The section of the report on the mineral cassiterite mentions John Crawley and the network of companies under the subtitle "exports to international markets."
The U.N. report traces minerals from mines in the Congo to "internal buying networks," and to export companies that sell the minerals to companies abroad, including AVL.
The GlobalPost report of Dec. 3 also relied on an investigation by the Washington-based Enough Project, headed by John Prendergast. Enough is the anti-genocide project at the Center for American Progress. Their research, including shipping records, “suggests” that Niotan, Inc. is “currently supplying the U.S. electronics industry with tantalum from rebel-held mines in eastern Congo,” according to a press release issued by Enough.
In an interview with GlobalPost, Crawley said he had contacted Enough directly and disputed their research, saying it was not substantiated by facts.
Crawley also said he felt the United Nations’ report cast his company in an unfair light although he was careful to say he felt its author had “his heart in the right place.”
“If you carefully read the report, it implies all kinds of things are wrong. But it does so in the face of careful documentation that proves otherwise,” said Crawley.
Crawley added that he has worked for many years to improve transparency and accountability in the industry.
“I have tried to push the industry to reform and not ignore what is going on,” he added.