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Senate passes a landmark bill to rein in dirty deals in mining and drilling

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 16 — EARTHWORKS commends the supporters of a landmark Senate bill that passed yesterday with provisions that aim to break the connection of drilling and mining with corruption and conflict. Under the amendment included in the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Act (Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act), companies will need to report to the Securities and Exchange Commission payments that they make to governments. This greater transparency should help prevent mining, oil, and gas companies from making arrangements with governments that represent bad deals for the public wherever those companies are operating.

The bill also contains important measures to ensure that companies importing several metals from countries in the Congo basin report what they have done to ensure that metals sales did not contribute funds to armed groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

“This bill offers a ray of hope to people in the DRC and around the world who suffer violence and human rights abuse at the hands of armed groups partially funded by mining of gold, tin, tungsten, and tantalum,” said Jennifer Krill, EARTHWORKS' executive director. “These 'blood metals' are sold in the global market, and may end up in jewelry and electronic devices on sale in the US. We welcome this new tool that will help the public to hold companies accountable if they are not doing all they can to avoid contributing to these devastating abuses.”

Through our No Dirty Gold campaign, EARTHWORKS has worked to keep mining from contributing to conflict in place like the DRC and elsewhere. The bill bolsters the campaign's “Golden Rules” criteria for responsible mining and responsible sourcing for retailers, which includes a provision to ensure that operations are not located in areas of armed or militarized conflict. Thanks to this legislative effort, companies will have added incentive to avoid causing and exacerbating conflict.

Leading up to the vote, thousands of EARTHWORKS members sent letters and email to encourage Congress to support such measures. EARTHWORKS also calls on the SEC to immediately implement strong compliance measures for the new reporting requirements.

EARTHWORKS is a member of the global Publish What You Pay campaign that promotes transparency in the extractive industries.

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