November 18, 2011
The SEC needs to recognize a very persuasive and powerful pattern in the comments being submitted.
Virtually every one in support of Dodd-Frank 1502 are large organizations who do not have to live with the result in the Kivus of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Not a single supporter lives in the conflict area, including the archbishop of the Catholic church, Enough Project, Global Witness, the Kinshasa government, American politicians and political groups, the U.N. Panel of Experts, and all the NGOs. None of them live there.
In contrast, every single response from the miners who live in that area is that Dodd-Frank is already an unmitigated disaster for those that live there. COCABI, COMIMPA and COMIDER represent 20,000 miners in the conflict area and 100,000 inhabitants. Their letter to the SEC implores you to not listen to Enough Project, Global Witness or other proponents of Dodd-Frank because they have no grasp of the disastrous impact it is having in the Congo and have never talked with those affected by 1502, the Congolese miners.
Further, all the reliable data coming out of the U.N.Panel of Experts, Tulane University and every other data source shows empirically that Dodd-Frank is already a disaster for the Congolese. All of the data confirms that Dodd-Frank has resulted in a de facto embargo for all of central Africa, with legal exports down by 70-95%. Meanwhile the same sources all show that smuggling has increased significantly. This data proves that the impact of Dodd-Frank has been to move hundreds of thousands of Congolese from poverty to utter destitution while increasing the mineral revenue going to the militia.
We have 160 tons of coltan waiting for export that were mined by legal and highly transparent means over the last 14 months, but we cannot find a buyer for that coltan except for the Chinese, who we refuse to sell to because of their human rights record in the Congo and in China, and the militia who we also refuse to sell to. No other buyer is available to buy coltan that has been caught in the gap between the declaration of a need for a chain of custody process and the implementation of such a process.
The SEC must provide a grace period for minerals already mined before a process is in place. If you don't, the only ones who will benefit are the militia and giant corporations.
The artisanal miners will continue to starve. Unable to certify their mines without the revenue from their existing stockpiles they will be permanently shut down, an unconscionable result of Dodd-Frank. The World Bank estimates up to 10 million people get their living from artisanal mining. Without a grace period, Dodd-Frank will put millions of them out of work and the result will be that they will move from poverty to utter destitution.
Time is off the essence. Starvation does not wait for the slow machinations of bureaucracy. Please act quickly to provide a grace period, and strongly urge smelters to buy this stockpiled coltan. The militia are already selling all the coltan they get their hands on. A grace period will not allow more conflict minerals out, but will aid the honest miner in being able to create the revenue to certify their mines for future compliance.