Report finds unintended consequences of Dodd Frank Act on Congolese miners

December 1, 2014

In 2010, on the heels of the global economic meltdown, the Dodd Frank Act was signed into law. In the sweeping reform law is legislation that compels companies in the United States to audit their supply chains to ensure they are not using “conflict minerals.”

The intent of the law was to cut off the militia groups that control many of the gold, coltran, tin and tungsten mines in Congo and it was championed by influential activists.

However, The Washington Post reports that the legislation, signed by President Obama four years ago, set off a chain of events that has propelled millions of miners and their families deeper into poverty, according to interviews with miners, community leaders, activists, and Congolese and Western officials, as well as recent visits to four large mining areas.

The Washington Post reported that as it sought to comply with the law, Congo’s government began by shutting down the mining industry for months. Then, a process was launched to certify the country’s minerals as conflict-free. But the process is unfolding at a glacial pace, marred by a lack of political will, corruption and bureaucratic and logistical delays.

That has led foreign companies to avoid buying the minerals, which has driven down prices. Many miners are forced to find other ways to survive, including by joining armed groups. Meanwhile, the militias remain potent threats.

Since the law went into effect, Congo’s government had certified just 25 mining sites out of hundreds in South and North Kivu provinces as “green” — meaning there was no presence of armed groups and there were no children or pregnant women laborers — according to U.N. monitors. As of October, there were only 11 mines out of more than 900 in South Kivu where minerals were “tagged” as conflict-free, said Adalbert Murhi Mubalama, the province’s minister of mines.

The full story can be read at The Washington Post website.

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