Tough legislation slows trade in conflict minerals

14 August 2012

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14 August 2012 | Kamalpreet Badasha

Armed groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have seen profits from the sale of ‘conflict minerals’ fall by 65 per cent thanks to tough US legislation and industry action.

According to non-profit campaign organisation the Enough Project, the implementation of the Dodd-Frank Act and increased consumer interest in the problem has cut both the amount of trade and the prices paid to insurgents. The legislation requires companies sourcing tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold to disclose whether conflict minerals are used in their products. It applies to all companies that report to the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

A report From Congress to Congo: turning the tide on conflict minerals, closing loopholes, and empowering miners provided recommendations to increase the trade in ‘conflict-free’ minerals. The biggest threat to the trade at present is a group called the M23 Movement, which is protecting Rwandan interests in the DRC. The rebellion group is aiming to increase the trade in conflict minerals by gaining control of mines in the Congo.

The report’s first recommendation is that the US and international partners pressure the Rwandan government to stop all support for the rebellion. The second is to implement initiatives including a monitoring mechanism to speed up the certification of conflict-free mines. It states companies from all sectors, including retail and automotive, should show support by partnering with suppliers that source from conflict-free mines in the DRC.

It also recommends the empowerment of miners by establishing a fund to increase employment. This would be backed by US and EU companies in the mineral supply chain and the World Bank. The final recommendation proposes the US and EU support an increase in the number of Congolese mining police.

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