Conflict Mineral Rules Becoming Established in Africa, Experts Say

July 14 - Despite challenges and initial suspicions, rules covering the international trade in conflict minerals are taking hold in Africa and are providing a legal framework for small enterprise mining operations to bring the minerals to the international market, experts said at a panel discussion in Washington DC.

Legal production and sale of tin, tungsten and tantalum is viable five years after a new US law began requiring companies to disclose whether they are obtaining minerals that had fostered violence in central Africa, said Yves Bawa, regional director and program manager for the NGO Pact in the central Africa.

Central African Politics Under Watch

July 11- Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo have come under scrutiny by international bodies who caution that undemocratic practices in the Central African countries may lead to instability or violence.

The UN Security Council heard a warning about the July 21 presidential elections in Burundi, and the European Union Parliament passed a resolution calling for immediate political reforms in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Iraq's Oil Fields in the Southeast

Iraq hosts major oil fields, including the super-giant Rumaila, in the southeast. Pipelines carry the crude and the natural gas to export terminals at the northern tip of the Persian Gulf.

UN: Iraq Casualties Rise to 1,466 in June

Deaths in Iraq due to fighting rose to 1,466 in June, the United Nations reported, higher than the 1,031 recorded in May. The UN said that increased deaths among soldiers and militia accounted for much of the rise.

Western Iraq has been a battleground between the IS caliphate and the Baghdad government in the southeast and the Kurdish autonomous forces in the north. IS forces have overrun much of the western desert provinces, and have captured Ramadi, 63 miles west of Baghdad, and the major oil refinery at Baiji, 117 miles up the Tigris River from Baghdad.

Ukraine Halts Russian Gas Purchases After Price Talks Collapse

Ukraine said it would not buy natural gas from Russia after negotiations over prices failed. Russia said it would maintain its price of $247 per 1,000 cubic meters with a discount of about $40. Ukraine sought a deeper discount. Ukraine officials said they would buy natural gas from other sources but seek to resolve the issue with Russia before the heating season.