"10 years ago, we were under de facto control of armed groups...today, let's admit we are a long way from that. And if we’re honest, that’s in part because of Dodd-Frank – it came to shine the light on those illicit actors. Today, despite the problems with governance, you can feel more government control.” - Justine Masika Bihamba, Coordinator of the organization Synergy of Women for Victims of Sexual Violence
Conflict minerals have fueled and continue to help sustain armed violence in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (Congo), linking them to the deadliest conflict globally since World War II.The four conflict minerals (gold, along with the 3Ts - tin, tantalum, and tungsten) are not the only sources of income to armed groups, but they are some of the most lucrative. The illegal exploitation of natural resources today is a manifestation of the grand corruption linked to violence that has marked successive governments in Kinshasa and the broader region since colonial times.
The U.N. Group of Experts on Congo found in 2016 that gold “provides the most significant financial benefit to armed groups” and “is the most lucrative and easily smuggled of the natural resources in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo." A study from the Enough Project found that armed groups made an estimated $185 million from conflict minerals in 2008. In 2007 the Pole Institute noted “minerals are a major source of income and of conflict in North Kivu as in the whole of the DRC,”
A mortality study by the International Rescue Committee looking at conflict-related deaths between August 1998 and April 2007 estimated that more than 5.4 million people died as a result of armed conflict in Congo.There has been continuing violence since that study, but no definitive follow up has been conducted on the mortality toll.
"A conflict-free minerals industry would contribute to ending the unspeakable violence the people of Congo have endured for years.”- Dr. Denis Mukwege, Founder and Medical Director of Panzi Hospital
Section 1502 on conflict minerals of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act is a transparency measure, one part of a comprehensive approach to Congo’s challenges. Passed in 2010 and implemented by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in 2012, it creates a reporting requirement for all companies publicly traded in the United States with products containing any of the four conflict minerals. This creates a lever to support transparency, security, and the rule of law in the mining sector. Companies must now publicly disclose annually whether any of the gold or 3Ts in their supply chains originated in Congo or a neighboring country and, if so, describe the due diligence measures taken to determine the source of the minerals. Dodd-Frank 1502 does not require companies to divest from Congo or source from conflict-free mines. The law only requires companies to report on their mineral sourcing and due diligence practices.
The cost of compliance has been significantly overestimated by industry lobbyists. Claigan, an independent environmental consulting firm with expertise in supply chain management, estimates the total cost of Dodd-Frank 1502 compliance was approximately $140 million for 2014.This is a fraction of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s estimate of $3-4 billion for the first year.
“In 2014, we educated suppliers who mistakenly believed that CFSP-compliant smelters are, by definition, not sourcing from the Covered Countries, or whose conflict minerals policies indicated that they intend not to source from the Covered Countries at all.” – EMC Corporation (Source: Conflict Minerals Report 2014)
Consistent with its objective, Dodd-Frank 1502 along with related reforms has led to significant improvements in the transparency of corporate supply chains and to a major reduction in the number of 3T conflict mines in eastern Congo. More than 70 percent of the world’s smelters for the four minerals have now passed conflict-free audits. Before Dodd-Frank 1502, there was no certification mechanism for distinguishing conflict mines (i.e. mines controlled by armed groups or the Congolese army) from conflict-free mines, and there were no federal transparency requirements for companies on conflict minerals. The law and related reforms have changed these circumstances and created a two-tier market whereby the price for untraceable 3T conflict minerals is significantly lower than the price for verified conflict-free minerals. This price difference has made the trade in 3T minerals significantly less lucrative for armed groups.
Number of conflict free mines: 204 (as of April 2016)
Number of refiners that have passed audits: 242 (as of December 5th, 2016)
As of 2016, the International Peace Information Service (IPIS) found that over three-quarters (79
percent) of 3T miners surveyed in eastern Congo were working in mines where no armed group involvement has been reported. This is a significant change given that the U.N. Group of Experts stated as recently as 2010 that “in the Kivu provinces, almost every mining deposit [was] controlled by a military group.”
As of December 5th, 2016, 75 percent of smelters/refiners worldwide (242 out of 319 total) for the four conflict minerals have passed audits by the Conflict-Free Sourcing Initiative or associated programs, and an additional 24 smelters/refiners are participating in the program (i.e. are in the process of being audited) for a total of 266 participants (over 80 percent).
There is now an emerging certification mechanism run by the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), and mines have begun to be validated as conflict-free. As of June 25, 2015, 141 mines in eastern Congo had been validated as conflict-free by multi-stakeholder teams made up of U.N. officials and Congolese civil society, business, and government representatives.
In surveyed locations, “minerals that do not go through conflict-free programs sell for 30 to 60 percent less” than minerals verified as conflict-free, thus reducing profits for armed group trying to sell conflict minerals.
"...Alcatel-Lucent does not want to prevent its suppliers from sourcing from legitimate mines located within the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its neighboring countries (as doing so could be detrimental to the legitimate economies and populations of those countries).” – Alcatel-Lucent (Source: Conflict Minerals Report 2013)
Dodd-Frank 1502 must be fully implemented, not abandoned, and strengthened with livelihood projects and other support to mining communities. As often occurs in places where black markets are disrupted by reform, Congo’s 3T mining sector is being affected by the transition to a conflict-free economy, and many miners have experienced livelihood challenges.The original conflict minerals draft legislation included resources for livelihood programs for mining communities, but unfortunately those provisions were omitted from the final law and thus resources were not forthcoming in a timely way, causing hardship for some communities. Some aid has been disbursed to support conflict-free mining, but more support for livelihoods projects is needed. The solution to uncovering and eliminating these harmful illicit markets is not to reduce transparency measures but rather to strengthen and expand them.
Livelihood projects should include alternative livelihoods programs and artisanal mining support. Project planning should involve concerted community consultations and decision-making, and projects should encompass microfinance programs, programs to increase women’s accessibility to mining and other livelihoods, and transition programs for child miners. Projects should also include aid for the formalization of artisanal mining—including the creation of artisanal mining zones, validation of more conflict-free mines, capacity building for mining cooperatives, provision of equipment, and development of safety standards for miners.
Section 5 of the original “Conflict Minerals Trade Act” (introduced on Nov. 11, 2009) included provisions for livelihood support. Since that time, the Enough Project has repeatedly called on the United Nations, the United States, and other governments to engage in a process of dialogue and reform in Congo that is broadly inclusive of Congolese civil society, business, and government representatives.
"Armed men have been free to exploit minerals away from any eyes. The formula for exploitation has been to attack civilians. To do that, they harm the women. When women are raped, the men are forced to flee, the children can’t survive, and the village is abandoned - then the area is free for exploitation.” - Archbishop Francois Rusengo, Archbishop of Bukavu, South Kivu
Many Congolese communities and leaders—including Nobel Peace Prize nominee and Sakharov Prize winner Dr. Denis Mukwege, community activist Justine Masika Bihamba, and Archbishop François-Xavier Maroy Rusengo of Bukavu, South Kivu—support Dodd-Frank 1502. Leaders and activists support the law because they have seen direct positive impacts, because they believe in transparency and the rule of law, or both.
Dr. Denis Mukwege: "A conflict-free minerals industry would contribute to ending the unspeakable violence the people of Congo have endured for years. Government must not only enact strong legislation, they must be willing to enforce the law. Companies bear the responsibility of compliance and public disclosure, and acting transparently as consumers are increasingly aware of conflict-free components on the market. Tens of thousands of legitimate miners would benefit from a clean, transparent minerals industry…The mineral trade is one of the components that drive suffering in Congo.”
Open letter signed by 31 Congolese civil society leaders, experts, and former ambassadors: “It is time for another broader push for reform on conflict minerals and natural resource governance in order to complement the Dodd-Frank legislation and deepen related minerals reforms. Dodd-Frank has been the primary driver of corporate and regional policy change on conflict minerals.”
WATCH: Conflict Minerals Legislation - View from Eastern Congo
Congolese miners and human rights activists speak about the impact of Dodd-Frank in Congo in this video from 2012.
More Resources and Information
Click here to download PDF version of Progress and Challenges on Conflict Minerals: Facts on Dodd-Frank 1502
Over 5.4 million dead. Over 2 million displaced. Congo is home to the deadliest conflict since World War II.
The war in eastern Congo began in the early 1990s and continues to this day. It has encompassed two international wars—from 1996 to 1997 and 1998 to 2003—and multiple invasions from neighboring countries, with combatants from many armed groups, both foreign and domestic. While Congo has abundant natural resources, it is also the world’s poorest country per capita, according to the United Nations. Congo is also home to the largest and most expensive U.N. peacekeeping mission in the world, MONUSCO, which has more than 20,000 personnel and an annual budget of $1.4 billion. The eastern part of the country is plagued by instability, as militias continue to wreak havoc on the population. Meanwhile, the conflict gets very little coverage by the international media.
The conflict in Congo is notorious for serious violations of human rights, including violence against women and the use of child soldiers. Since 1996 the International Rescue Committee has calculated that approximately 5.4 million people have died from war-related causes. In 2012 Congo ranked lowest on the United Nations Human Development Index.
Like many around the globe, women across crisis zones in east and central Africa are subject to sexual and gender-based violence. In the Democratic Republic of Congo particularly, SGBV is a disturbing feature of the country’s decades-long conflict as it is continually used as a weapon of war. Today, on International Women’s Day, the Enough Project is highlighting the vulnerable security situation for the women in eastern Congo’s mining areas. Read More »
On January 31, Acting Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Michael Piwowar welcomed interested parties to submit comments in response to a statement calling into question the current Conflict Minerals Rule. The Enough Project has submitted a comment in response. Read More »
In recent weeks, human rights groups and civil society members based in eastern Congo and the region issued eight different letters in support of Dodd-Frank 1502, representing 101 organizations in total. Read More »
It was not long ago that central Africa was mired in its "first world war" that led to 5.4 million deaths in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Slowly and painstakingly, conflict-affected areas have started to recover. But peace is fragile, and a reversion to widespread violence is never a far-off prospect. Read More »
The conflict-free minerals trade has been slowly but steadily increasing in recent years, and 2016 resulted in record-high exports from the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo once again. The North Kivu province, the most 3T-rich minerals province in Congo, exported record-high conflict-free export numbers for both tin and tantalum in 2016. This counters the claims that Dodd-Frank 1502, often referred to as the conflict minerals law, is leading to a de facto embargo on eastern Congo’s minerals. Read More »
This Valentine’s Day the Enough Project is excited to announce we will once again be ranking leading companies on their efforts to source conflict-free minerals from Congo. With the Dodd-Frank 1502 conflict minerals law under increasing threat of being repealed or weakened, this consumer holiday is the perfect time to let companies know we expect a strong commitment to conflict-free sourcing. Read More »
At fifteen minutes to midnight on New Year’s Eve, early fireworks went off in the Democratic Republic of Congo. These weren’t to celebrate another new year, but rather the signing of an agreement that, if implemented, paves the way for the country’s first ever peaceful, democratic transition of power. Read More »