Congo Conflict Minerals Spotlighted

U.S. House members tightened the screws on the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) last week, urging it in a letter to issue final rules on conflict minerals disclosures.

Conflict minerals— tantalum, tin, tungsten, and gold—are essential to the manufacture of many electronic products and are abundant in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Unfortunately, the extraction and trade of these minerals are being used to finance armed conflicts that result in violence, rape, slavery, and other appalling human rights violations.

Back in 2010, the Dodd-Frank bill provided some momentum in stopping the trade of conflict minerals originating from mines financing armed rebel groups in war-torn eastern DRC or adjoining nations. Under the bill companies must certify their supply chain does not use these minerals.

But the details of Dodd-Frank are still being hashed out. The SEC was tasked with issuing rules on how to comply with the bill generally, but manufacturers are still waiting on those rules, now one year after the deadline.

“This issue is too serious to allow further delay,” representatives stressed. “Conflict minerals and non-transparent payments for natural resource extraction continue to be a weight on developing nations’ growth and are a risk to investors and the public.

“Worse, continued delay undermines efforts in the DRC to make the mining industry more transparent and to diminish the link between minerals and the funding of the brutal violence carried out by warlords,” said the letter.

Despite the SEC dragging its feet on specifics, companies should be making efforts to comply with Dodd-Frank. Public companies reporting to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) should be filing periodic reports disclosing the origin of conflict minerals in their supply chain. And if conflict minerals do originate from Congo or an adjoining country, companies must prove due diligence, providing a description of the product, processing facilities and auditors.

This is easier said than done of course. Tracking conflict minerals at their source and then following them up the supply chain requires manufacturers to go several layers deep. Some companies—like AVX—which supply electronic components to Intel, Motorola and Hewlett-Packard, among others, have hired auditing companies at the mining source to oversee mineral extraction and transportation. Others avoid DRC altogether.

Not complying with conflict minerals regulation might win you a hefty fine – but the harm to a company’s brand is an even greater cost. Companies found to use conflict minerals from rebel-run mines win unwanted headlines.

The SEC has taken its eye off the ball, but not the general public or watchdogs. Nonprofits such as the Enough Project and sister sites score companies according to the progress they are making toward conflict-free supply chains in Congo.

To avoid falling behind and risking reputation, manufactures should consider the following best practices right now:

  • Identify your company’s risk. If you’re a electronics company then you’re using conflict minerals
  • Systematically track product parts and suppliers using tantalum, tin, tungsten, and gold
  • Provide a system of record to prove due diligence
  • Seek full materials disclosure from your supply chain
  • Create an audit trail to report compliance
  • Take action – request supplier declaration which is required by law
  • Use supplier score cards

What steps have you taken to ensure your products are conflict free?

Discover what you can do to comply with conflict minerals regulation

This entry was posted in Industry News, Supply Chain & Compliance and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 thoughts on “Congo Conflict Minerals Spotlighted”

  1. Agapetus Mathew Wamalwa says:

    Dear The World,
    Am very much concern about African conflicts. Are these thing real or sort of story telling of long ago that happened in another planet. Are we Africans making all these to happen or there is external forces that are making us to turn at each others neck?
    We have had super powers before and now we have USA as the current dominating super power that can make things happen the way they wish and in this case America has all mechanisms of stopping any sort of wars, conflicts and violence in the whole world and make it a better place for human living. Powerful regional blocs have been set up and in this case EU, G8 and all others can do it for the human race to be at peace. Now, United Nation is for what? This is an international organ that most countries of the world are signatories. Soldiers operating under UN have been in Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC for a long time and no positive impact or effects they have scored to assure Congolese people enjoy their human right and in this case peace.
    I have gone through the profiles and histories of perpetrators and so called warlords, it is not convincing that the whole world have failed to capture and stop these culprits from carrying on mischief. Congolese need to feel happy and develop their country just like any other developed country or any other peaceful third world country. I understand, almost the whole human race now in one way or another we are using products whose raw materials originates from DRC. You as a consumer of such products what is your contribution towards stabilizing DRC?
    Let us not continue deceiving ourselves that UN or America or European Union will do anything about this, these are same people who are the opportunists of the conflict in African region. America, Great Britain and other developed countries have set up all mechanisms that protects their people from any harm and so there are sanction, embargoes, restriction, prohibitions that no blood or duty product is allowed in their territory from someone not in terms with them. In Africa there is no approved industries that manufacture or produces weapons of any kind, why then African continent is pictured with weapons? are we testing field? We are also human being who have blood just like any other human being.
    Please, if it is the Natural raw materials that are sustaining rebels in African then let all these be sanctioned, restricted, prohibited from entering the international world as for now we are all assisting and sustaining warlords/rebels by using these products.

    Say No to War, conflicts and violence in Democratic Republic of Congo.

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