Last chance to influence EU Conflict Minerals Regulation

As you no doubt know we at London Mining, and specifically the Stop Mad Mining project, have been campaigning on the European Union’s plans for regulating conflict minerals. The aim is to tackle how the extraction and trade of raw materials contained in our consumer goods is linked to human rights violations, and the financing of armed conflicts around the globe.

In April 2016 we handed over our joint petition to the EU Commission, Parliament and Council, with almost 42,000 signatories. We want to update you on the process, and ask you to take action. 

In June 2016 the EU reached a political agreement, in which the important demands of civil society were included. This was a partial victory. However, some technical questions were still left open for discussion. Now it seems the final round of negotiations will take place on 22 November that will address technical aspects which are threatening to dilute the achievements made so far.

For more background on the issue please go to the following pages:-

http://www.amnesty.eu/en/news/blog/all/suggested-eu-rules-on-conflict-mineral-trade-risk-exclusion-of-90-of-importers00089/

https://www.euractiv.com/section/development-policy/opinion/global-witness-conflict-mineral-import-loopholes-would-pay-for-6000-ak-47s/

 

We can still influence the outcome, by asking the EU Parliament to keep demanding a strong regulation from the Member States and therefore avoid the deadly trade in conflict minerals.

We would like to you take one, or both, of the following actions…

Please tweet the key European Parliament delegates with suggested tweets below, or your own version. If possible please include @berndlange and @Mariearenaps

  • After agreeing companies must avoid #conflictminerals, #EU is now exclude majority of companies via a loophole! @Europarl_EN must challenge
  • #EU wants to exclude the majority of importers from obligation to check for #conflictminerals. @Europarl_EN must challenge thresholds!

Please email the text of the message below to
Bernd Lange
, Chair of the Committee on International Trade (INTA) of the EU Parliament (bernd.lange@europarl.europa.eu)

Thanks in advance – we will update when the latest news is in …

Subject: Ensure an effective conflict minerals regulation

Dear Mr. Lange (Mr. Winkler/Ms. Arena/Ms. Sargentini)

I appreciate that the European Parliament has long championed the idea of a strong and binding regulation on the responsible sourcing of conflict minerals within the EU. It is good news that after such a longer period of negotiation that the trilogue process appears to be drawing to a close

However, credible sources have highlighted key issues that I feel need addressing. Therefore I urge you to consider the following concerns before the next – and possibly final – trilogue meeting.

My main concern is over the issue of thresholds. According to the political agreement reached in June 2016, the obligation in the new regulation will apply only to importers of specified conflict minerals whose imports exceed an annual threshold. Although this was meant to accommodate exemptions for smaller companies, I understand that the threshold currently under discussion for imported gold would be 100kg, which equates to an estimated value of approximately 3.5 million Euros.

I also have concerns with regard to the so-called White List. The draft regulation requests that responsible importers of specified conflict minerals provide annual information about the identity of all the smelters and refiners that supply them. On the basis of this information communicated to the competent authorities, the EU would publish a yearly White List of ‘responsible’ smelters and refiners that comply with the proposed regulation. There are concerns that the due diligence practices of companies on the White List will not be adequately assessed, and it could be used to effectively side-step proper due diligence and evaluation.

Finally, the political agreement of June 2016 also envisages that an indicative list of conflict-affected and high-risk countries (CAHRA list) will be produced along with the regulation. Even though it is meant to be indicative, there are real concerns that such a list could lead to the ‘black-listing’ of certain countries, dissuading companies from sourcing from them. This runs contrary to the aim of the regulation, which is precisely to facilitate and encourage responsible sourcing from conflict-affected and high-risk areas.

I am grateful that the Parliament has already advocated for effective due diligence of companies. I now ask you to consider the following recommendations:

  • Remove the reference to thresholds. If this is not possible, the thresholds need to be lowered drastically. In France, for example, the legal threshold with regard to illegal money laundering is set at 3 kilograms.

  • If the idea of thresholds is not removed, please ensure that article §5.4 is well formulated. For instance, the addendum “as appropriate” needs to be removed where it qualifies text.

  • Ensure that the due diligence practices of companies on the White List of certified ‘responsible’ smelters and refiners comply with the obligations contained in the proposed regulation, and in particular with the OECD standard. All smelters and refineries need to be regularly checked and the audit reports need to be transparent and publicly accessible.

  • The CAHRA list must not become a ‘boycott’ list. It would be best to withdraw the idea, but if not it needs to be adapted regularly in the awareness of the rapidly changing nature of conflicts. It can, at the most, be exemplary, and not name risk areas in a comprehensive manner.

  • When implementing the regulation there needs to be a clear mechanism to ensure the full participation of civil society organisations, and representatives of small-scale mining, from conflict areas. This is particularly relevant for representatives from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), who have extensive experience that can assist in the long term development and revision of the practicalities of the regulation.

Thank you for considering my concerns and recommendations.

Best wishes,

YOUR NAME

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