Where does your gold come from? Is the small shimmering gold jewelry piece on you fueling a conflict somewhere in Africa? Conflict minerals have long sustained wars and atrocities across Central Africa for decades. Most of the high value minerals such as tin, titanium, diamond, gold, tungsten and tantalum which are used in making many of the modern electronics are mined in the DRC, often under brutal slave-like labor conditions. Many of these mines are controlled by various criminal syndicates and rebel factions and the proceeds help fund wars across Central Africa.
It is estimated that 95% of the artisanal gold in the DRC is mined illegally by such syndicates. Not only do the mines impose brutal conditions on mine workers and fuel conflict but they also deprive the Congolese government of the much needed legal tax revenues in a country that is already ranked one of the poorest in the world.
The Journey of Gold VR Film
Porous borders, elaborate gold smuggling routes and lack of proper certification and traceability measures in a country with weak governance institutions means that the conflict gold can be smuggled across borders and thousands of miles away from the source brutal mines. This makes the gold totally untraceable by the time it reaches the global marketplace. Now a new virtual reality film hopes to shed light on artisanal gold mining in the Nyamurhale gold mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Dubbed The Journey of Gold, the VR film takes viewers inside the artisanal gold mine where in immersive virtual reality, they can view how the gold is being produced and even meet the miners working in the mines to produce gold that is clean, safe and conflict-free. The virtual reality film, which is supported by USAID, is geared at helping support responsible gold mining in the DRC and ensure the international market is able to source gold that is clean and compliant with global standards and guidance. Nyamurhale, the gold mine covered in the VR film, is among the first gold mining cooperatives in the DRC which produces and sells conflict-free artisanal gold via a sustainable supply chain. Its gold is traceable and the downstream buyers can view its gold supply chain through a smartphone app.
The virtual reality film will showcase how Nyamurhale, the artisanal gold mine featured in the film cleaned its act and transformed itself from a seller of illegally mined and smuggled gold to a trusted seller of conflict-free gold with a verifiable supply chain. The Journey of Gold is expected to increase awareness of how the mineral resources are extracted from the mines in the DRC through their use in the phones and other electronic devices.
The Journey of Gold VR film was developed by Google through its conflict minerals program. The tech giant also partnered with StoryUp XR and various international nonprofits including USAID and the Responsible Artisanal Gold Solutions Forum to create the virtual reality film.
The virtual reality film has just debuted on DiscoveryVR and users are able to watch it via smartphones, tablets, computers or through a VR headset for a virtual reality experience. For VR experience, you can use a Daydream View or Google Cardboard.