PRESS 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
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
Axel Mutia Mobile +243 853129865
*_For Fairmining and Oakridge Mining Solutions_*
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American coltan processing company, Cabot Corporation recently released a press statement declaring that they are conflict free. One supposes they could be conflict free by sourcing their minerals strictly from Australia. However, Cabot took their conflict free claim into questionable territory when they intimated that they had been conflict free for ten years. Cabot’s press statement noted, “We are pleased that our customers now have independent confirmation that Cabot is a reliable supplier of ethically sourced tantalum products. Over the last decade, we have maintained a strict policy of purchasing raw materials only from ethical, non-conflict sources and this audit result is confirmation of our long-standing commitment in this area.”
In spite, of Cabot’s claims, they were identified in the 2002 United Nations report on the illegal exploitation of Congo’s natural resources as one of the companies illegally exploiting Congo’s natural wealth. See list of companies named by the United Nations here! The March/April 2002 issues of Passive Component Industry page 8 reports “African ore sales are also made directly to Cabot Corporation, tracked via IM145 shipment data from Africa to Pennsylvania, where Cabot maintains its tantalum processing plant.”
Based on this evidence, international NGOs, Friends of the Earth (FOE) and Rights and Accountability in International Development filed a complaint against Cabot and three other American companies (OM Group, Trinitech Holdings, Eagle Wings), calling on the State Department’s National Contact Point to investigate Cabot and the other companies for possibly violating OECD guidelines and fueling the conflict in the Congo.
The October 1, 2010 UN Mapping Exercise Report said that the victims of Congo’s conflict are entitled to reparations from the multi-national corporations implicated in the conflict in the Congo. Congolese are adamant about pursuing justice for the over six million lives lost in the scramble for Congo’s minerals.
The Pole Institute convened representatives from diverse sectors of the Congolese society to share their analysis and prescriptions for addressing the de-criminalization of natural resources so that they can be a benefit to the Congolese people. Below are some excerpts geared towards the International community and the myriad efforts underway to address “conflict minerals.” Click here to download the full report.
In order to rehabilitate and decriminalize the mining industry, which according to [Aloys] Tegera, generates more than two-thirds of the revenue of North Kivu, it is necessary to, in the first place, work towards the re-establishment of the Congolese state. Any efforts by the international community to re-organize and legislate for the Congolese mining industry without taking this fundamental step into account risk failure, “unless, of course, the various lobbies have in mind a Congo without the Congolese, which would clearly be absurd.” Introduction page 3
A glaring lacuna in all these efforts is the lack of involvement of the Congolese people in seeking solutions to problems that face them in their own country, and Johnson argues that unless the Congolese people are brought “back in” all these international efforts will remain, for their originators, an exercise in creating the DRC after their own image. Introduction page 4
[Dominic] Johnson argues that because of this failure to include the Congolese people in crucial debate on ‘their’ issues, the international community has made a serious error of judgment in not recognizing that the situation in the east of the DRC goes beyond just a presumed squabble over minerals and raises fundamental questions of the structuring of state power which have to be taken into account by anyone hoping to work with the Congolese state in order to reform the Congolese mining sector. Introduction page 4
It is imperative that the various people and organizations of good will who are determined to ensure that the minerals of Kivu are ‘clean’ or conflict-free first work towards a definition of the basics necessary for the re-establishment of the Congolese state. Only when this is in place will the control of the mining industry be possible. The various initiatives will not be effective unless this basic condition is met. Aloys Tegera page 11
It is argued that important aspects of the regulatory model now emerging are partly based on an erroneous and outdated analysis of the conflict dynamics in Eastern Congo and that this is likely to weaken its effectiveness on the ground. The error consists in regarding competition around minerals as the main reason for conflicts in Eastern Congo and the establishment of government authority as the main mechanism for ending such competition and thereby the conflicts themselves. Reforms centered around strengthening the rôle of the state in Eastern Congo rather than the people will, we contend, exacerbate conflict instead of ending it, even if they succeed in curbing the excesses deriving from mineral trade. Dominic Johnson page 22
It is therefore perfectly possible, under the certification and due diligence schemes now on the table, to claim to have solved a decades-old conflict about control of a mineral-rich region and the control of the trade of its produce without addressing any of the issues involved, without resolving conflict on the ground and without contributing to peace and human security in a manner visible to the local population. Dominic Johnson page 43
However, beyond the possibility or even the impossibility of an international intervention to render the minerals of eastern DRC ‘clean’ for use, in other words conflict-free, it is important to emphasize that the criminalization of the mining industry underestimates the fact that more than two-thirds of the revenue of a province like North Kivu depends on mineral exports. Aloys Tegera page 8
Click here to find out more about the Pole Institute.
Also find here prescriptions for addressing Congo’s challenge from select Congolese groups:
Women scholars and activists
Remember to join us for Congo Week from October 17 – 23 as ordinary people throughout the globe join in solidarity with the people of the Congo in their quest to fulfill their enormous human and natural potential.