Since the implementation of the Dodd-Frank “conflict minerals” law, there have been signs of progress according to an investigative report by the Enough Project. After five months of field research in 14 different mining towns, it appears that the prominence of violent armed groups at “3T” mines (tin, tantalum, and tungsten) in eastern Congo have been reduced by 67 percent.
Before the Dodd-Frank law on conflict minerals, it was estimated that armed groups and the military were making $185 million annually from the 3T mines. The army groups that controlled the mines were also responsible for human rights violations and other atrocities in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Now, however, “Dodd-Frank has had major impact in eastern Congo by making it much less economically viable for illegal armed groups and the army to exploitatively mine 3 out of the 4 major conflict minerals,” Enough’s Field Researcher Fidel Bafilemba says. With electronic companies expanding their responsible mineral sourcing from Congo, Congolese miners are now earning 40 percent more from these mines.
Enacted in 2010, The Dodd-Frank conflict mineral law requires that companies using tin, tungsten, tantalum, and gold in their manufacturing processes, report to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) whether their minerals were produced in Congo or neighboring country. Furthermore, the law requires full disclosure on the measures taken to exercise due diligence in the source and chain of minerals through independent verification and independent private sector auditing.
According to the report “The Impact of Dodd-Frank and Conflict Minerals Reforms on Eastern Congo’s Conflict,” the law has imposed traceability and transparaceny of minerals in the mining market while shrinking the market of untraceable conflict minerals. Because of the law and other electronic industry audits, a two-tier market has been created where minerals that are not inspected by conflict-free programs are selling for 30-60 percent less.
“Mines formerly controlled by warlords such as Bosco Ntaganda are now part of peaceful supply chains, as 21 electronics brands and other companies now source from 16 conflict-free mines in Congo. Tech and jewelry companies should further expand these projects and contribute to the new USAID fund for artisanal miners,” says Enough’s senior policy analyst, Sasha Lezhnev.
With signs of progress and success of the Dodd-Frank law in the 3T mines in Congo, more attention should be brought to conflict gold. Enough’s field researcher Fidel Bafilemba said, “U.S. Special Envoy Russ Feingold, the United Nations, and especially now those in jewelry business, must squarely address conflict gold that still funds armed groups responsible for atrocities and grave human rights abuse.”