Friday, October 21, 2011

Conflict Minerals Yes They Do Concern You

Think conflict minerals don't affect you think again. They are found in everything you use from g4 phones to can openers.
I was invited to attend a presentation on "Conflict Minerals". I went expecting a talking head, instead got an insightful presentation on a very difficult subject. Melissa Miller Proctor. VP at Sandler,Travis and Rosenberg was the presenter. She has that rare quality in a lawyer of taking a difficult subject and making it understandable to the person on the street. If her law firm were smart  they would would videotape her presentation, YouTube it and take it viral.

This is the video she used to give basic info on the problem.

We have all seen video and programs on the boy soldiers that skim over the fact that its the Congo and why they are being enslaved into these armed bands. Here's where it affects you.

The Congress recently enacted the Frank-Dodd Act which requires that publicly traded companies have to show that their sourcing and manufacturing stream does not include "Conflict Minerals" which are primarily found in the Congo.

Basic stats on the Congo:
Congo then Zaire during colonialism (French) now Democratic Republic of Congo.
Second largest country after Sudan, now largest after Sudan was split in two.
Second largest rain forest in the world. Second lowest GDP in the world in spite of being the most mineral rich country in the world. Breadbasket of Africa. Congo could feed all of Africa, the US and Europe if not in constant war mode. (This fact alone is  reason enough to destabilise the Congo).

These are the minerals which make up the so called "Conflict Minerals":
Columerite-tantalite (coltrai)
Gold also as we all know is money as well
Dirivates of the above (ie iron)

Major players:

Warlords take minerals to licensed registered European Metal Traders to Refiners in Asia to East Asian Manufacturers to End Users in United States and Europe. Looks familiar think Oona people of Nigeria and the oil being exploited there.

Now to the Frank Dodd Act which requires publicly traded companies to "prove" they are using conflict free minerals in the supply chain of manufacturer. Retailers are supposed to be exempt. If you  wholesale to a publicly traded company you may be subject to the Act. The Securities and Exchange Commission is the enforcing body. Major terms and provisions of the Act have not been defined. This Act has more loopholes and exemptions than Swiss cheese.

Apple has gone on record that they will go Conflict Mineral free. Walmart and Target have asked for exemptions.

Why the Frank Dodd Act at all. My spin is there is a growing groundswell against "Conflict Minerals" as people are slowing finding out the horrific human toll to bring them their fast phones and other such items that we use throughout the day. Frank-Dodd is Washington speak to get ahead of that groundswell and say we are handling it.

If they were serious about this Act enforcement would be with US Customs, key provisions would be clear AND defined.

If they were really  serious about doing something we would have boots on the ground from the US and  the United Nations. Can you say Uganda, Qaddafi, Saddam Hussein and that dictator in Panama we no longer had any use for. Do you really think it would take much effort to rid the Congo of these 'Warlords".

Whose profiting from this modern day colonialism and exploitation of the Congo. Everyone in the world except the Congolese people.

Hope the Congolese people can survive until the groundswell actually arrives.

I took pictures of speaker and head of the organization but decided it was in their best interest that I not put them on here.

The Amazon
Michelle not Smiling

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