Wednesday, November 16, 2011

"Hear the Voices of Miners": Letter to the SEC from Congolese Mining Cooperative

This is another "letter from the field," from a Congolese civil society leader describing the actual effect of Dodd Frank 1502 on the people. I came upon this letter while looking through recent comments to the SEC regarding DF 1502. 

October 17, 2011

My name is Serge Mulumba and I am President of the CDMC, a mining cooperative that oversees and assists artisanal mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

I am very pleased to participate in this panel discussion on conflict minerals. This is an opportunity for us to hear the voices of miners (diggers) regarding the Dodd Frank and especially its impact on their daily lives.

1. We believe that Dodd Frank, while being a good law in terms of its humanitarian nature, had a negative impact on the lives of miners (diggers) in our various mines throughout the DRC. Each passing day children die from lack of food and medicines, others do not go to school because parents are unable to pay school fees. The social situation of miners (diggers) has so deteriorated since the advent of Dodd Frank.

2. As you can imagine, the miners (diggers) live from day to day. Artisanal mining in the DRC is a subsistence activity. In digging every day that miners (diggers) are able to afford food for their wives and children, to care for their families in case of illness, to pay their children's education and even a dress them.

3. But in view of the Dodd Frank law, the companies that purchased the minerals formally stopped buying since 1 April 2011, because they do not have the insurance to sale it to smelters.

4. These companies, leaving the market and waiting for the tracking system is in place to meet the final buyers who have a moral duty to prove the origin of minerals, have created the breakdown of cash flow that previously supported the diggers. No more circulation of money, no more mining activities, no more social commitment. All social commitments made by companies that buy minerals stopped such as building schools, clinics, rehabilitation of roads, provision of drinking water and medicines and basic necessities. This is the beginning of suffering.

5. We managed over 13,000 miners through our North Katanga mines, but the month of April 2011 was the darkest month. How to explain that the ore can not be purchased because we have to prove its provenance? We had to educate them and tell them that it is to cut the armed bands of their funding source. And one digger to retort, but here in our mines (in Katanga) there is no armed groups, no military, no rebels... And I said, it's here in Katanga province pacified but because of what is happening in Kivu, We must fight together for the minerals in the DRC do not feed the conflict because it is the people who will suffer. And if the minerals are well controlled, there will be no fraud and the DRC will enjoy his wealth and development. Good thing, replied miner exhausted, but we must do things in perspective because all the minerals from the DRC do not feed the armed group. And these armed groups the international community knows exactly where they are and where they come from. And throughout my tour in our mines in Katanga, and even when I was in the Kivus, the reactions of the miners (diggers) are the same. All minerals are not conflict mineral and make an effort to make this legal trade picks up, and the lives of our families no longer at risk. This message is returned as a refrain.

6. We can not give you exactly the number of lives that are lost each day following the cessation of artisanal mining in the DRC and yet even if a child died or who is hungry or do not go to school because his father digger lacked money, this is a tragedy, it is a sad news that should challenge our humanity. Or the woman who gives birth to her home with all the risks involved for the simple reason that the miner (digger) husband has no money to bring her to the hospital.

7. We made the rounds of talks on conflict minerals to explain the sad reality on the ground that unfortunately many do not know because they trust the major NGOs that publish reports sometimes very alarming.

8. The first thing we are asking U.S. Senators to watch the little film that we produced on the progress in the traceability of minerals from the DRC including a pilot phase that provides sufficient evidence that the minerals from the DRC can be operated in a lawful manner and contribute to the development of our nation that has suffered too much at times unjust wars. (To see the film, go to youtube and type: mininginthedrctoday).

Take your time dear Honourable Members to see this little film to feel the finger of reality on the ground and see how the DRC would be that its minerals drawn to finally benefit from it and stop with the much maligned border fraud.

9. The second thing we ask the Honourable Members is to share something in what has been called conflict minerals. All minerals in the DRCongo are not conflict minerals whatsoever in Kivu, Maniema and even less in Katanga where the process of tracaebility of ores was launched on 1 April 2011 by ITRI and the pilot project of due diligence of supply chain of minerals from conflict areas or high risk is being implemented by the OECD.

10. We are asking that all stakeholders in the supply chain must be mobilizing to the real areas of conflict are identified as a clear mapping and conflict free areas have access to the international market.

11. For this purpose, to create synergy in this approach, We are asking that a delegation of the Honourable Senators make a visit to the three mining provinces of the DRC, namely, Kivu, Maniema and Katanga to feel the realities on the ground to finally adopt measures to implement this legislation Dodd Franck which are subject to U.S. companies without sacrificing tens of thousands of people whose lives depend directly and indirectly from the mining in the DRC.

Thank you for the attention you give to our opinion on the issue of conflict minerals and dare to believe that together we can restore hope to the Congolese people


President de CDMC Cooperative Miniere

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