Mining Faces New Restrictions Under Finance Reform

CHICAGO -- Activists campaigning for restrictions on "conflict minerals" and "dirty deals" for resource extraction with other governments are claiming victory following the signing Wednesday of the new U.S. financial reform law containing provisions calling for new regulations and "transparency" in extractive industries.

The law is being called a "major success" by Publish What You Pay, a coalition of 600 developmental, environmental, faith and human rights groups in more than 50 countries, and Enough! , a group based in Washington working against genocide and crimes against humanity, described it as an "incredible victory."

The legislation requires the Securities and Exchange Commission to within nine months write regulations implementing public disclosure of payments to the U.S. or foreign governments for commercial development of oil, natural gas and minerals. The new resource extraction company rules will "support the U.S. commitment to international transparency promotion," a Congressional summary of the law said.

Manufacturers using in their products "conflict minerals" from the Democratic Republic of Congo and neighboring countries will also be required to report to the SEC on "measures taken to exercise due diligence on the source and chain of custody of such materials" and products manufactured. Independent audits of the reports are also required.

The State Department is also required by the law to submit to Congress a strategy for addressing illicit materials trade in Africa and provide a map showing linkages with armed groups to conflict minerals including tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold.

"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," said Jennifer Krill, executive director of Washington-based Earthworks, a member of the Publish What You Pay campaign that promotes extractive industry transparency.

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