Trump may suspend rules on African ‘conflict minerals,’ say human rights advocates – by Geoffrey York (Globe and Mail – February 13, 2017)

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/

JOHANNESBURG — Congolese warlords and unethical U.S. corporations will be the big winners if U.S. President Donald Trump goes ahead with a reported plan to suspend the restrictions on “conflict minerals” from Central African war zones, human-rights groups say.

The latest Trump plan would jeopardize many years of effort to identify minerals from conflict zones so that consumers aren’t inadvertently financing war and rape when they buy cellphones, laptops, jewellery and other products, the groups say.

Canadian researchers have been among the leaders in developing a certification system to ensure that minerals in consumer products are not supplied from mines controlled by armed militias in war-torn countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Those efforts could be severely weakened if Mr. Trump suspends the “conflict minerals” provisions of the Dodd-Frank regulations, the Canadian researchers say. Mr. Trump is considering an already drafted executive order to suspend the minerals rule for two years, which would loosen the rules on the trade of tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold from Congo, according to media reports in the United States.

Business groups, who have been lobbying against the rules and challenging them in court, will welcome the expected order. They say the regulations would cost billions of dollars and would lead to job losses.

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