Conflict Minerals: The Truth Underlying the Systemic Looting of Congo

Congolese Miners Speak Out on Conflict Minerals For First Time

with 3 comments

minersPRESS RELEASE – March 1, 2011

For the first time, people of the Congo speak out about The Dodd Frank Bill that aims to stop the sale of conflict minerals into the USA.

Leaders of cooperatives representing 20,000 small scale miners and their extended community of 100,000 people, lend their support to the Dodd Frank Bill, which aims to prohibit the use of rare metals and minerals that fund conflicts in the Great Lakes region of Africa.

However, they want to caution the SEC on listening to campaign organisations, most notably Global Witness, who do not represent the ordinary people in the region effected by this piece of legislation. They request an opportunity to speak, face to face with the SEC in order to present the reality on the ground, and find a way to implement a time table with the community that will promote peace and prosperity in the eastern DRC.

Below is the letter that has been submitted by the community directly to the SEC today, March 1st. We present it to you in its unedited format.

*+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++*

Submission to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission on the Regulatory Initiatives Under the Dodd-Frank Act

We, the representatives of the mining cooperatives COCABI, COMIMPA and COMIDER, the only three legal mining cooperatives in North Kivu representing 20,000 artisan miners, and with the full support of,

The Governor of North Kivu;

The national and provincial members of parliament elected in Walikale Territory;

The Administrator of Walikale Territory;

The President of the Walikale Civil society;

Various other cultural, civil and church organisations;

Would like to make the following statement to Unites States of America Securities and Exchange Commission in response to the sections on Conflict Minerals in the Dodd Frank Bill: -

1. We want to bring to your attention that we the local population in the areas that will be the most effected by your proposed legislation Dodd-Frank Bill, have not been consulted in all these times.

2. We have been suffering greatly for many years and would like to ask you to help in a constructive way to improve the lives of the local population in the region of Walikale, and the rest of the DRC and not to
punish us further.

3. We thank our Government [DRC] for the efforts made during the resent ban on mining in the three Eastern Provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu and Maniema to improve the situation. We know how difficult it is for
the government and we thank the President for his courage to implement the ban and for the consultation with us and the local population and the commitments given to us to help improve the situation.

4. This ban was very difficult and hard for us the local population, but we are very happy to see the positive effect it already had.

a. It had shown us as local mining cooperatives the benefit of working together.

b. The government have listen to many of our issues and have agreed to make many changes to protect and improve the situation of the local artisanal miners.

5. Now that our government has promised to lift the ban we are looking forward to work together with our partners to improve the lives of the local population.

6. We are aware that you plan to put an embargo in place from 1 April 2011 for all minerals that don’t have traceability.

7. We are supporting you very well in what you want to achieve and thank you for all your effort, but for us if we cannot start to work when the ban is lifted we will starve. We cannot continue to suffer any longer.
Do we now have to choose between dying by a bullet or starving to death?

8. We are also afraid that smuggling of minerals will increase – the people have to eat – and that all the positive effect of the current ban will be removed. It is important to now quickly build on the positive
effect of the ban.

9. We have been working now for three years on a solution with our international partner, Oakridge Mining Solutions to develop our area and to improve the situation of artisanal miners.

10. Through this we have created a model – Fairmining – that we will implement when the mining ban are lifted. We will be very happy to give you full detail of this model that is based on social development,
environmental development, mineral traceability and compliance and ethical and fair-trading. We are committed to work with ITRI with regards to mineral traceability for Cassiterite and Coltan and have already made preparations to extend this to the area of gold.

11. We have also formed a local Congolese mining company Kalminco (www.kalminco.com) where we the local cooperatives are the shareholders. We are planning to develop this company into a small-scale mining company and it is our vision to turn it into a large mining company owned by the local people.

12. We ask your support and help in implementing this model and to please engage with our partner and ourselves to make sure we find a solution that will last.

13. We ask you to support our efforts and to give us time to implement such a program for all areas under the control of our cooperatives.

14. We have been made aware of statements by foreign organisation, with specific reference to Global Witness and Enough Project, that we don’t agree with and we ask you to have caution when using these organisation as the primary source for legislative decisions that could effect the whole of Central Africa, without deeper consultation with the local population.

15. We want to bring to your attention that neither of these, nor any other organisations have engaged with us to any real extend and that they do not understand the reality and complexity of the situation.

16. We have been made aware of a situation where Enough Project are asking people not to buy computers because the minerals in them are from our region. We do not agree with this and are not supporting any such
actions.

17. Although it is a very difficult process for us, we believe that these problems should be resolved by legal and constitutional ways and not by uncoordinated efforts by a partially informed general public.

18. We thank you once again for all you good work and look forward to your response.

19. We would also like very much to come and present our situation in person to you.

For COMIMPAAxel Mutia, General Manager
For COMIDERKalinda Mukombo Emmanuel, President
For COCABI Idrissa Assani, Vice-president
*_Contact detail_*
*_For Cooperatives_*
Axel Mutia Mobile +243 853129865
Email axelmutia@yahoo.fr
*_For Fairmining and Oakridge Mining Solutions_*
Greg Valerio
Mobile +447973768101
Email greg@gregvalerio.com

Greg Valerio
Jeweller & Activist

I am now taking private commissions for discerning customers who demand
the finest ethically sourced materials in the world.

t. +44 (0)1243 783968
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Written by Congo Kin

March 3rd, 2011 at 12:32 pm

Posted in Congo Resources

3 Responses to 'Congolese Miners Speak Out on Conflict Minerals For First Time'

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  1. Because the letter sent by the three cooperatives has been widely circulated, I thought it might be helpful for people to know that it does not necessarily reflect the full range of views from Congolese civil society, and in fact the cooperatives, while claiming to represent the local populations, actually represent business interests. They have of course every right to express their informed opinion about the possible negative impacts of a de facto ban, and it’s an important perspective; however, I do not think it’s right that they have portrayed this as if they are representing the poorest workers’ interests and opinions. Below is some detail that has been reported by a human rights organization in Goma about the three cooperatives:

    COCABI (or Coopérativ de ceureseurs artisanaux de Bisie) was the first cooperative created by the non-indigenous people of the Walikale Territory, which also had the support of non-indigenous-led companies including MPC (Mining Process Congo), with prominent Congolese businessman Kambale Ngezayo as main shareholder. MPC is also based in Rwanda under the name MPA. The situation has now changed a bit. Indeed, at COCABI’s inception, there was a contest between MPC and GMB, both of them claiming right to a monopoly of buying tin for artisanal diggers. Now, thanks to competition the monopoly has been forsaken and the market is almost free. Nevertheless, there are still links between MPC and COCABI because MPC still claims to be the legal owner of Bisie mining site.

    Regarding COMIMPA (Coopérativ miniere de MPAMA BISIE), it was the second cooperative after COCABI, but with the unique characteristic of being indigenous-led. It benefitted during its creation from the support and influence of the society created by the indigenous people of Walikale, named GMB (Group Minier BANGANDULA). The bangandula are one of the communities who see themselves as landowners in areas rich in minerals, including the Bisie site.

    Regarding COMIDER, it is a new cooperative installed in 2010 with headquarters in Walikale, with an extension in the Ike mining site in Bisie. COMIDER has for a sponsor General Denis Kalume Numbi, former Minister of the Interior and General Commissioner of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

    Karen Stauss, Free the Slaves

    Karen Stauss

    25 Mar 11 at 8:58 pm

  2. Dear Karen Strauss,
    Your organization Free the Slaves is a respectfull and trustfull institution.
    I am writing to you in my capacity as Managing Director of MINING AND PROCESSING CONGO SPRL(MPC SPRL)and; I found your comments about my company very cheap and harmfull.
    Within the shareholding structure of MPC SPRL,there is no one under the name of Kambale Ngezayo.The official company’s documents are accessible from the office of the Notaire or Tribunal of Commerce in Goma.
    Surely, you were in Goma, why don’t you approached MPC SPRL for reliable information?
    As an African who had suffered through the history the slavery during colonialism era; am deeply dispappointed to discover the tools Free the Slaves is using to “free” the slaves in the World.
    I challenge you to proof me wrong whenever feel like in a public forum or before any juridiction.
    Albert Kitenge
    Managing Director
    +243994764772

    ALBERT KITENGE

    30 Apr 11 at 4:08 pm

  3. I just found this stunning post. What is stunning about it? The author’s completely tortured interpretation that the letter from the three mining groups shows they “lend their support to the Dodd Frank Bill”.

    Are you kidding me? What part of this letter supports Dodd-Frank?

    Point #1 says they’ve not been consulted by anyone at any time specifically regarding Dodd-Frank. That is not how you open a letter of support for Dodd-Frank.

    Points 2-5 say “Our government just about killed us all with a 6-month embargo and in order to keep them from doing it again, we’re going to tell them we love them. Since we have no other way to resist, maybe they will stop torturing us if we make nice. Thanks for beating the crap out of us and making our lives a living hell. Please don’t do it again.”

    Points 6 says they are aware of Dodd-Frank and “what you want to ACHIEVE”… BUT for us if we cannot start to work when the ban is lifted we will starve. We cannot continue to suffer any longer.” That is not a statement of support.

    Points 7-13 go on to say they have their own very good traceability process in place, outlined in detail, and they then ask that the SEC support “implementing THIS model and to please engage with our partner …and to give us time to implement such a program for all areas under the control of our cooperatives.

    The are begging the SEC NOT to impose a law from the outside, but to leave them to implement the great process they’ve already established. Nothing in that shows support for Dodd-Frank in any way.

    Points 14-17 say the advocacy groups who WROTE the Dodd-Frank provision have no clue what they are talking about, have never once talked to the miners (a direct violation of OECD Compliance rules), and should not be listened to.

    What do Enough and Project advocate for most strongly? Dodd-Frank. it is their baby and their crowning achievement of disgrace. The miners want nothing to do with Enough, Global, or their pet project of Congolese destruction, Dodd-Frank.

    Having never had a conversation with ANYONE about a law which will have the most impact on them, Points 18-19 implore the SEC to talk to them before making a decision. But in the spirit of arrogant colonialism demonstrated by Enough and Global, the SEC will take the same tact as those two groups – it’s not really about the Congolese.

    Enough and Global are worried about fundraising and are willing to let people die for their greed (no better than any of the giant corporations they used to disdain and are now in bed with). And the SEC is worried about giant corporations and politicians who might not like them.

    Nobody in this Dodd-Frank process is worried about the Congolese. It is a travesty of historic proportions. We have learned little in the last 100 years about how to actually help build Africa, and nothing demonstrates this more than the author’s blind, careless and self-centered interpretation and grasping for straws, that these miners are lending support to Dodd-Frank.

    Chuck Blakeman

    19 Nov 11 at 12:34 pm

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