March 15, 2012
We are a mining company working directly with artisanal miners in the DR Congo to help them export their minerals and create a vibrant local economy that eventually does not depend on mining.
We have business relationships with chiefs and tribes all over the DR Congo. Some are in the conflict are, most are not.
Since September 11, 2010, export of artisanal minerals from the DR Congo has been at a complete standstill. Our Congolese partners have thousands of tons of coltan, thousands of tons of tin, many hundreds of tons of tungsten and many other minerals that are not covered by the Dodd-Frank Act, already mined and waiting for export. But in the last 18 months, we have been unable to find a single buyer of Congolese artisanal minerals anywhere in the world.
Some are saying it is difficult to find a buyer, but none of those saying it is "difficult" are actually selling minerals. It is not difficult, it is impossible. The only minerals being sold out of the DR Congo now are from three sources:
1) Giant multi-national corporations working a single mine in the Katanga region. These giants have banded together to give the appearance of helping the Congolese and proving to the world that there is no embargo of Congolese minerals. But the fact is that this single mining operation is hurting the Congolese more than any other activity because it is giving the appearance that it is possible for the Congolese to export minerals when in fact no Congolese-owned businesses are able to export any minerals, and haven't for 18 months.
This Katanga mine is masking the fact that 1,000,000 Congolese who depend on mining for a living are starving to death because no one will buy their legitimately mined minerals. The overwhelming majority of the minerals being mined are hundreds and a thousand or more miles from the conflict region and have never been connected with conflict (there aren't even roads connecting these areas to the conflict region). Yet none of them can sell their minerals - no legitimate buyers will touch anything coming out of the Congo.
2) Two very questionable Chinese companies. These two companies are buying minerals from a very few desperate Congolese artisanal miners in North Kivu, at 30% of their past market value. These companies have been accused of many human rights violations, as has the country of China in which these companies do business. Further, the ability of a few artisanal miners to go against their conscience in N. Kivu and sell to these companies in order to not starve, does nothing to solve the issue that no one is buying minerals any where in the Congo. Again, most mineral activity is not in the conflict region and the Congolese who are trying to sell their legitimate minerals on a legitimate market are unable to get their minerals to these two spurious Chinese companies even if they wanted to.
3) The militia. The UN Panel of Experts has consistently confirmed that smuggling of minerals out of the DR Congo has increased significantly since the imposition of Dodd-Frank. The criminals, which Dodd-Frank was supposed to hurt, are the only ones truly benefiting from Dodd-Frank. Artisans who used to sell their minerals on an open and legitimate market are now selling them to criminals in order to survive. Again, even this criminal option is not available to the majority of our Congolese artisanal miners who live a thousand miles or more from the conflict region.
Completing the rules for implementation of Dodd-Frank will not solve this problem. The public relations disaster that has occurred simply by passage of Dodd-Frank, and the ongoing rhetoric by the advocacy groups Enough Project and Global Witness, have attached such a stigma to central African minerals that many smelters have vowed to never buy minerals from this region of the world ever again, regardless of what transparency process is decided upon.
The SEC will not reverse this problem. It must be addressed by the NGOs who have attached such a terrible stigma to the Congolese minerals. But the SEC can do one thing that might help - create a ruling that allows for a 24 month phase-in period to allow for the sale of existing stockpiles of minerals that have already been mined and have been sitting in warehouses in the DR Congo now for a year and a half while the Congolese are starving.
The creation of such a phase-in period will not solve the problem, but it is possible that it could be one small step in helping solve the problem. But if no phase-in period is implemented, the SEC will be condemning millions of Congolese to utter destitution, as they will never again be able to enter the open market. Giant multi-nationals will take over the entire Congolese mining industry and the hope of a locally robust Congolese economy will be destroyed.
We urge you to recommend that 1502 not be implemented in any form, that it is too difficult to implement. But if you do implement it, we urge the inclusion of a 24 month grace period for the sale of existing artisanal stockpiles. It will take at least that long to convince smelters to buy anything from central Africa.
Groupe Weyi International
Emmanuel Ntima Weyi
Groupe Weyi International
Rpublique Dmocratique du Congo Africa