Fight against Conflict Minerals Gaining Ground Copyright AFP/Getty Images

Fight against Conflict Minerals Gaining Ground

Mining gold is still a problem where the human rights of workers are concerned.

There are early signs of success in the fight against sources of conflict minerals, according to a new investigative report by the Enough Project, “The Impact of Dodd-Frank and Conflict Minerals Reforms on Eastern Congo’s Conflict.” The authors write that violent armed groups responsible for mass atrocities, rape, and grave violations of human rights have ceded control of two-thirds of mines surveyed in eastern Congo producing tantalum, tin, and tungsten. Since enactment of “conflict minerals” legislation four years ago, success has been seen in the demilitarization of these “3T” mines, although conflict gold is still in need of urgent reform. 

“Our research found that electronics companies are expanding their responsible minerals sourcing from Congo, and Congolese miners are now able to earn 40% more from those mines,” said Enough’s Senior Policy Analyst Sasha Lezhnev. “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.”

“Responsible businesses are beginning to remove the gasoline that has fueled Congo’s deadly conflicts,” said Enough’s Co-Founder John Prendergast, “but the Congolese army and several other militias continue predatory abuses against civilians.”

“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,” said Enough’s Field Researcher Fidel Bafilemba. “However, 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.”
 
"The Congolese government, NGOs, and donors should create a miners entrepreneurship fund to empower miners in eastern Congo to expand their small businesses, generate income, and minimize safety risks and abuses known to artisanal mining,” said Enough’s Field Researcher Timo Mueller.

“Without reforming the security sector, militarily engaging the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) rebel group, introducing real anti-corruption reforms, and committing to free and fair elections, the security situation will remain unstable,” added Prendergast.

 

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