Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Round Up of Congolese Voices on Conflict Minerals

Serge Mulumba, president of the mining cooperative CDMC, in a letter to the SEC:
"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."

Pastor Raymond, in an open letter posted on Fair Jewelry Auction:
"Please listen attentively to our cries of weeping and anguish. Our families and us will be doomed to death if you do not hear these cries of alarm. Do not wait to rescue us when we will be already in the grave. Act in time to avoid the humanitarian catastrophe that would arise from the consequences of your suspension to purchase our minerals."

Heads of three South Kivu mining associations, in a letter to the SEC, begging them to reconsider DF-1502
"What is the refuge of all the Congolese jobless, around 85 % of the population. Is it to make peace or to trouble the peace, when the life is stopped for a population? No job, no life. Please imagine the consequences…"

Pere Didier de Failly s.j., in a letter to the SEC:
"Now if the Dodd-Frank regulations are applied from April this year it will ruin all these efforts and condemn hundreds of thousands of people in Eastern DRC to keep under the terror of these maffiosi barons, instead of improving the whole situation. Even in Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi, thousands of people will be badly affected."

Open letter to President Barack Obama and SEC Chair Mary Schapiro from 50 religious, civil society and business leaders in South Kivu Province, DRC, July 5, 2011:
In this environment, artisanal mining has emerged as one of our only economic lifelines, and has directly and indirectly provided milions of jobs. The abrupt cessation of this trade has had devastating impacts on our people:

1. Millions of our artisanal miners have suddenly h.d their livelihood cut from under them. (Many of them continue to mine, finding small-scale buyers who are either buying on speculation or smuggling abroad, but at less than a half of what they making before.) They find it increasingly difficult to pay school, health, or maternity fees; some even report having diffculty providing food for their families.

2. Mining enclaves have emerged over the past decade in places so remote that only planes can access them. The world's sudden refusal to buy these minerals means the planes no longer service these communities; with nothing to trade, they are unable to provide themselves with such basic necessities as salt, sugar, oil, cloths, soap and so on.
3. Because artisinal mining was one of our only engines of economic growth, secondary econòmic impacts are being felt throughout the province. Even in our large tòwns, economic activity has diminished; construction slowed; trade in everyhing fallen. People with very little to begin with are now doing with less.

Dominic Johnson, Senior Analyst
NO KIVU, NO CONFLICT? The misguided struggle against “conflict minerals” in the DRC 
The Pole Institute, April 2013

Thus, a pattern is emerging in which Kivu's mining sector is being asphyxiated in the name of reform. Before 2010, Kivu's mineral traders had willingly participated in moves to strengthen formal and legal channels and to safeguard Kivu livelihoods by creating “conflict-free” production and trading chains within Eastern Congo. The mining ban killed this off, and today the focus has moved to Katanga and Maniema, increasingly apparently favouring a nexus of mining firms closely linked to the power-holders in Kinshasa. Because they do not finance armed groups, these firms are seen as “conflict‐free,” but no criteria exists to judge the wider political ramifications of their activities, their benefits for local development and the possible exacerbation of local conflict caused by favouring certain firms in collusion with international partners to the detriment of others. 
Kivu Times interview with Soraya Aziz Souleymane, human rights activist, and deputy director of the Carter Center in the DRC:
What do you think that the appearance of theories of ore blood and certification process brought more into local economies in the mining areas? Do you think for example that the Dodd-Frank Act has led to the restoration of the social climate in the mining areas of the DRC?That's a good question since many communities depend on natural resources. Some international initiatives have decried the problem of conflict minerals. This led the US government to adopt the Dodd-Frank Act which requires all US companies trace their minerals. The Congolese Government has also conducted the suspension of mining activities in some squares. However this has had the effect of further impoverish communities that depend mainly from the exploitation of these resources and has resulted in the creation of major clandestine networks that have propelled him to the rank of Rwanda leading producer of Coltan. For me it must apply the solutions I mentioned earlier, namely the creation of alternative economic activities for communities to survive without these mining revenues. Hail why the recent regulation of the European Union that took this aspect of the local economy into consideration.  [Google translated from French] 
Testimony of Evode Imena, Minister of State in charge of Mining, Ministry of Natural Resources, Government of the Republic of Rwanda
Before the U.S. House Financial Services Committee, Monetary Policy and
Trade Subcommittee
“Dodd-Frank Five Years Later: What Have We Learned from Conflict
Minerals Reporting?”
Despite all these efforts and the costly investments in due diligence, we have noted since 2013 a negative international market bias against Rwandan minerals, and in particular against tungsten, as Dodd-Frank has been fully implemented. This situation worsened in 2014, when companies that process tungsten ore stopped buying from all Central African countries – despite the fact that Rwanda was fully implementing both OECD due diligence recommendations related to conflict minerals and the ITRI minerals traceability mechanism.
The region is now suffering from an “Africa-free” and not a “conflict-free” minerals situation. Section 1502 has caused a de-facto boycott by companies in the US and much of Europe on our most valuable resources. The result is a very limited customer base, which further drives down mineral prices because these customers know they have no competition for our resources.
The situation has largely impacted the livelihood of thousands of miners and their families, as the costs for due diligence are passed down from mineral exporters to mining companies, and then on to mine workers. Based on our calculation, the revenues for mining companies and wages for mine workers have decreased by 3 to 6 percent in the last year. Coupled with price fluctuation,
the situation has become very difficult to miners and to an industry with tight profit margins. 

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