Bloomberg Markets is reporting that BMW, Volkswagen and Ferrari have been using tungsten ore sourced from Colombia's FARC rebel terrorists. The extensive story focuses on Colombia's illegal mining trade and calls into question the provenance of the rare ore that is used not only in crankshaft parts production, but is also found in the world's computing and telecommunications industry for use in screens.

The ore is mined by the FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People's Army), and exported to Pennsylvania, where it is refined. The refined ore is then sent over to Austria, where a company called Plansee turns it into a finished product. Now, it's important to note that we aren't talking about the world's supply of tungsten here. In 2012, Plansee's American refinery purchased 93.2 metric tons of tungsten, valued at $1.8 million. That's peanuts, with the entire Colombian tungsten mining industry producing just one percent of the world's supplies.

That doesn't make indirectly supporting FARC any more acceptable, though. BMW, VW and Ferrari are all committed to not accepting mineral supplies from the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is also in the grips of a guerrilla insurrection funded, in part, by illegal mining. The same commitment would figure to extend to Colombian mining, but as BMW points out, it's difficult for a multi-national manufacturer to know where every item in its supply chain comes from. A company spokesperson says as much, telling Bloomberg, "These few grams out of the billions of tons of raw materials passing through the BMW supply chain are of no practical relevance."

This response is perhaps somewhat blasé, but BMW, Ferrari and Volkswagen aren't directly negotiating with the FARC rebels, and we'd be stunned if the three manufacturers were even aware of where the tungsten was coming from. By the time it arrives in their respective factories, it's traveled from Colombia, to Pennsylvania to Austria, making for a rather difficult web of countries and networks to track. Even so, with Bloomberg drawing a spotlight on the activities, we're assuming a few phone calls are going to be made.


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  • 62 Comments
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
        lmg
        • 1 Year Ago
        greatest autoblog comment... in the world
      sfast
      • 1 Year Ago
      WHat!?!?! Terrorists don't spend money on bras?
      Worx2749
      • 1 Year Ago
      One man's "terrorist" is another man's "freedom fighter."
      wilkegm
      • 1 Year Ago
      Bloomberg calling out BMW, Ferrari and VWAG in all this is a little bit of a stretch. A supplier bid on the materials. They might have even asked where the tungsten comes from. "Pennsylvania"- you know, land of Steel mills, cheese steak hoagies and horse-drawn buggies. But it is exactly there that the fault lies. The fact that tungsten ore bought from Central American terrorists/organized crime regimes is allowed to get past US customs in the first place. Then again, flinging poop at well known auto companies is much better headlines than calling out a small American and perhaps an Austrian company that no one has ever heard of.
        COHULEN
        • 1 Year Ago
        @wilkegm
        Plese tell me you are not saying Colombia is in Central America...
      Emory Coleman
      • 1 Year Ago
      So why is this story not "German AND American Corporations in Pennsylvania are refining Tungsten mined by terrorist" ? ? ? ? ?...
      Fazzster
      • 1 Year Ago
      Hey, the guy leading the terror parade in the picture has breasts....
      LOLO
      • 1 Year Ago
      if your surprised raise your hand... And the other illegal materials that they are collecting to carry on like their sh!t doesn't stink are what? They buy and sell and operate so easily they have to much money not to be doing something crooked. The rule is the same.
      chugokuotaku
      • 1 Year Ago
      oh please... one nation's terrorist is another nation's freedom fighter. As far as Western media is concerned, they're only terrorists when US and its allies are attacked. And don't get me started on the number of Irish Americans funding the IRA, or the insurgency tactics used against the Brits to win the war of independence. Oh wait! America is a country founded BY terrorists FOR terrorists. Native Americans can vouch for that one.
        AngeloD
        • 1 Year Ago
        @chugokuotaku
        @chugokuotaku Go peddle your Liberal moral relativism elsewhere. FARC is a narco-terrorist outfit fighting to overthrow a democratically elected government and impose a Cuban style dictatorship. They routine engage in kidnapping and murder of innocent citizens in Colombia in order to compel co-operation, just like the Shining Path in Peru and the IRA in Derry for that matter. They are not above criticism just because some other terrorist group like the IRA has received funding from American citizens. So have Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade. Are we supposed to overlook the Marine Barracks bombing back in the 1980's on that basis? Objective truth does exist in regards to these groups. They are terrorist scum no matter where they find support.
        SloopJohnB
        • 1 Year Ago
        @chugokuotaku
        Insightful. A student of history.
      Nora Browne
      • 1 Year Ago
      aren't they Freedom Fighters?
        AngeloD
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Nora Browne
        @Nora: Yes, just like the Khmer Rouge and Shining Path. You should go join them and fight for the freedoms they espouse: the freedom to live in socialist induced poverty on the Cuban model, and the freedom to shut your mouth and do what they tell you or be placed in a re-education camp on the post '75 South Vietnam model.
        Carlos Oliveros
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Nora Browne
        Take a trip to Colombia and ask around. You'd be hard pressed to find a single person who supports them.
        LOLO
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Nora Browne
        no stolen is stolen u dont put your capitalize of their backs every makes you dirty. You cant create special instances on a corporate level look at drug companies its no different. War is already good for gun makers and its nasty. how is this not.
      ec8094
      • 1 Year Ago
      Shame on the French for buying goods from those North American colonies in violation of King George's decree.
        AngeloD
        • 1 Year Ago
        @ec8094
        @ec8094 Are you seriously equating the American revolution with the Narco-Terrorist, Moscow funded, communist insurgency in Colombia? Typical Liberal. You folks never cease to amaze with your moral relativism and dogged anti-Americanism. How many British women did the Continental Army kidnap, hold for a decade, and subject to daily rapes as FARC has done with foreign tourists? Choke yourself.
          Myself
          • 1 Year Ago
          @AngeloD
          Concept of irony lost on some people...
          AngeloD
          • 1 Year Ago
          @AngeloD
          @Myself.. Duuuuude..you such an effiing hipster... That'll comfort the Colombians rotting in the jungle prisons run by FARC I'm sure. It's...like sooo effin ironic mon.
      icemilkcoffee
      • 1 Year Ago
      This is silly. There are plenty of regular people living in the rebel controlled territories. They need to make a living too. Would you rather they grow and sell coca? Because that is probably their only other alternative.
        Steve
        • 1 Year Ago
        @icemilkcoffee
        can we say that about the Iranians, too?
      Jeff Gilleran
      • 1 Year Ago
      The use of the word "terrorists" is getting pretty old. Anyone that goes against their government is deemed a "terrorist" Some might call them "revolutionaries" or "freedom fighters". Thing is, like religions, they all believe in something, and not all are simply "terrorists". "Terrorist" is a simplistic and generalized term, and since 911 (likely staged) it is seriously overused and a great buzzword to create "terror" in people. I agree with John. Everything comes from somewhere no matter how much you want everything to be fairly made, or "innocent", its not always the case. Even the food we eat in the US isn't always made with the best intentions for the consumer. Biggest reason I hate the FDA. Should they also be deemed "terrorists"?
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Jeff Gilleran
        [blocked]
          Aussie Aspie
          • 1 Year Ago
          " Smug, greedy, well-fed White people have invented a language to conceal their sins, it's as simply as that ...... Israeli murderers are called commandos. Arab commandos are called terrorists. Contra killers are called freedom fighters. Well, if crime fighters fight crime and fire fighters fight fire, what do freedom fighters fight? They never mention that part to us, do they? " -- George Carlin
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