DR Congo

Guide to Current Mining Reform Initiatives in Eastern DRC

Originally published



More than a decade after the United Nations (UN) Security Council expressed its concern about the illegal exploitation of natural resources in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), international organizations, governments and industry bodies have in recent years increased emphasis on the accountability of companies sourcing minerals from eastern DRC and the wider region. The impetus which brought on a variety of initiatives aimed at enhancing transparency and corporate accountability with regard to the mineral trade both in and from eastern DRC, was related to legislative initiatives in the United States (US) which focused on con!ict minerals. The legislative process in the US started in 2008 and resulted in a provision on con!ict minerals from the DRC and adjoining countries in a larger law that became known as the Dodd/Frank Act. The Act is targeted towards Wall Street reform in response to the "nancial crisis and was signed into law by US President Obama in July 2010.

The provision on con!ict minerals is contained in Section 1502 of the Act and imposes legal obligations with regard to due diligence measures by companies that trade on US Exchanges and are implicated in the supply-chains of tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold, the four main metals extracted from eastern DRC ores. The US law created a great sense of urgency in international diplomatic circles and in the business community. The pressure to create con!ict-free supply-chains of the minerals concerned mounted further when the UN Group of Experts released its latest report in November 2010, which illustrated in detail how in the DRC both rebels and the national army are pro"ting from the mineral trade. Political momentum subsequently increased when the UN Security Council strongly expressed its support for the Group of Expert’s due diligence guidelines.

In the DRC President Kabila imposed an embargo on all exploitation and exports from the Kivu provinces and Maniema (September 2010 until March 2011), causing among other things the implementation of several certi"cation and traceability schemes to be put on hold. Meanwhile, the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) has, in December 2010, endorsed the Guidance of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which provides industry with a set of well conceptualized due diligence measures. Finally, at the European Union (EU) level legislators are currently considering the adoption of legislation on con!ict minerals from eastern DRC in the vein of the pertaining provisions in the Dodd/Frank Act.

This brie"ng paper o#ers a short description of the ongoing initiatives by legislators, governments, multilateral organizations and industry aiming to ensure that mineral supply-chains are not tainted by con!ict in eastern DRC. The paper brie!y describes their genesis, the current state of a#airs, the linkages between the initiatives and the main challenges they face. Links to key documents are incorporated in the footnotes, which should enable the reader to become further acquainted with the subject.

This paper is based on a literature review and interviews conducted by researchers of the International Peace Information Service (IPIS).