WASHINGTON (September 14, 2017) – WCS Executive Vice President of Public Affairs John Calvelli issued the following statement on the passage of the Huizenga Amendment to the Financial Services appropriations bill that would restrict oversight of conflict minerals through a provision of the Dodd-Frank Act:

“We are disappointed by today’s House vote on an amendment that will dramatically undermine efforts to improve transparency around the mining of conflict minerals in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and elsewhere. Those of us that work in the DRC have already begun to see positive changes since this provision began implementation, and that progress is now threatened.

“As part of the omnibus appropriations process, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to defund the section of the Dodd-Frank Act that provided for the conflict minerals rule. This law helps protect people and wildlife, like the critically endangered Grauer's gorilla, harmed by unregulated and illegal mining in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) by keeping arms and ammunition out of mines.

“Conflict mineral transparency requirements help shine a light on the process that produces the minerals including tin, tungsten, coltan, and gold that make possible phones, computers, jewelry, and other everyday items for U.S. consumers. Maintaining U.S. transparency requirements are an important part of this and supports efforts to improve conditions at mining sites for the communities and wildlife that live near them. WCS research shows that unregulated mining in DRC and the surrounding region poses a substantial threat to great apes and other species of endangered wildlife, as armed groups operating at mines inside and around the country’s national parks have destroyed critical habitat and caused the killing of endangered wildlife to feed miners.

“A recent study by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and partners found that the Grauer’s gorilla population in eastern DRC had declined by 80 percent over the past 15 years. Evidence showed that the decline was substantially due to the hunting of gorillas for food, especially in areas near illegal mining operations.

“As the omnibus proceeds, I urge the U.S. Senate to reject this or any measure that weakens the transparency in the mineral supply chain that is currently helping solve the problem of conflict minerals.”