Today Earthworks joined Global Witness, Enough Project, and a group of other organizations calling for electronics companies to break from the US Chamber of Commerce for its stance of conflict minerals. The Chamber continues to pressure decision makers to overturn a key section of the Dodd-Frank Act designed to curb the deadly trade of conflict minerals from eastern Congo. The minerals covered under the 1502 provision of the Dodd-Frank Act are commonplace in most all electronics, and increasingly in the automotive industry.
Recently, electronics giants Microsoft, General Electric, and Motorola Solutions rebuked the Chamber’s opposition of 1502 by announcing they do not support its stance against the conflict mineral provision. These companies have come to realize the role they can play in breaking the link between the global trade in minerals and violence in eastern DRC. It’s time for the rest of the electronics industry to follow suit; not to mention the jewelry and automotive industry that have yet to distance themselves from The Chambers opposition to the conflict mineral rule in the Dodd-Frank Act.
You can read the entire press release after the jump
Last week Global Witness released the report, A Hidden Crisis?, documenting the murders of environmental activists around the world. The report examines reported killings of journalist, activists, and community members that have been killed because of their involvement in the defense of the environment. Spanning back to 2002, the report finds that 711 people have been killed in the last decade, or more than one person a week. The report paints a stark picture of the threats community members are facing as the mining industry, logging, and cattle ranching look to develop new lands. Killings have skyrocketed in the past years. Global Witness reports that there were over 106 murders in 2011 alone.
Yesterday I attended Newmont Mining Co.’s annual shareholder meeting. The meeting took place in a small hotel banquet room in a Wilmington, DE hotel. The Denver-based company has held its annual meeting here ever since 2007 after meeting in Denver became a lightening rod for annual protests against their irresponsible mining operations. However, while Newmont may have hidden away from protestors outside their meetings, they continue to face criticism inside their shareholder meeting.
Earthworks went up to the meeting to voice our concerns regarding Newmont’s continued lack of a robust community consultation and a free prior and informed consent (FPIC) policy for their mine projects, most recently at their proposed Minas Conga project in Peru. Here’s our statement and question to the Newmont Board of Directors:
Last month Ecuador did something it had never done before. It signed contracts for the first large-scale mining project in the history of the country. Prior to President Rafael Correa's championing of mega-mines in Ecuador, Ecuador was the last Andean country without a large-scale mine. It was also the last Andean country to not have to deal with major water contamination from cyanide run-off. It was the last Andean country to not have to deal with the millions of tons of toxic mine tailings each mine site must dispose of, often in water sources. That's all changed now.
Despite growing protests because of Correa's decision to open up the country to multi-national mining corporations, the President has remained defiant and steadfast in his decision. Even as thousands of people poured into the streets last month for a two week march in defense of water and in opposition to large-scale mining, Correa proclaimed: "We will not be beggars sitting on a sack of gold.";
Today, activists from the No Dirty Gold campaign left Macy’s a message at its downtown Washington D.C. storefront. The activists decorated the Macy’s front entrance with a giant balloon banner reading: “Macy’s, Don’t Break our Hearts. Dump Dirty Gold!” - referring to Macy’s failure to sign on to the No Dirty Gold campaign’s “Golden Rules” for responsible metals’ sourcing.
The activists showed up at Macy’s the day before Valentine’s Day to let shoppers know that Macy’s has thus far taken no action to help rid the jewelry industry of dirty gold: gold that may have been produced at the cost of human rights abuses, labor violations, and environmental destruction, among others.
Valentine’s Day is one of Macy’s busiest shopping seasons in the year, with the jewelry departments full of shoppers looking to buy gold jewelry for their special someone. Some of these prospective shoppers in Washington DC were greeted today by the large banner, held by over 3 dozen helium balloons, floating over the store’s main entrance informing shoppers about Macy’s dirty secret.
Colombia is in the middle of a mining bonanza. The national geology and mining regulation body, Ingeominas, reports that between 2008-2010 over 15,000 applications for mining operations were submitted. According to the new report “Mining in Colombia: at What Cost?” (PDF) nearly 40% of Colombia lands are under extraction and exploration licenses. Over 8.4 million hectares have been leased solely for mining, or just about 4x the size of New Jersey.
In the Colombia highlands mining is not a new way of livelihood. Artisanal mining has been a cornerstone of community sufficiency for generations, as is the case in Marmato. Marmato is a small village, in the department of Caldas, with a 500-year history of small-scale artisanal mining. In many ways the community of Marmato embodies the growing struggles of communities that sit on Colombia’s resource rich lands. In this case it’s gold. Marmato sits on “Montana de Oro”, or Mountain of Gold, so it is no surprise that large multi-national mining companies are anxious to tap into the area’s known deposits.
If communities in West Papua, Indonesia had anything to say about it Freeport-McMoRan would certainly be named the worst corporation in the world. Now you can help get Freeport-McMoRan listed as 2012’s worst corporation in the world.
Every year the Public Eye Award is given to the world worst corporation on earth. Previous winners include; Chevron, for their oil disaster in Ecuador; Newmont for their irresponsible mining and pollution in Ghana and Peru; AngloGold Ashanti, for it’s contamination of land and poisoning of people with its gold mining in Ghana. This year Freeport-McMoRan joins this shameful company as a finalist for the “award”.
There are varied definitions for conflict minerals. I usually define conflict minerals as minerals that are mined and used to influence and finance armed conflict, human rights abuses, and violence.
I also like Global Witness’ definition of “conflict resources” as “natural resources whose systematic exploitation and trade in a context of conflict contribute to, benefit from or result in the commission of serious violations of human rights, violations of international humanitarian law or violations amounting to crimes under international law”.
Two years ago this term “conflict minerals” hit the US business community with a thud. See, the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act had a small section, section 1502, that mandated companies fully understand their supply-chain and report whether or not they were using conflict minerals - in this case tin, tungsten, tantalum, and gold - from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The definition used for this law is a specific one and only looks at conflict associated with minerals in the regions of eastern DRC.