Activists in Portland, Oregon, are making headway in their crusade to make the city free from Congo conflict minerals.
Portland has been working towards building a permanent anti-genocide constituency across the Pacific Northwest. The Oregon Coalition for Humanity (OCH) is taking the lead to help raise awareness among big consumers of Congo minerals like the high-tech, automotive and jewelry sectors.
It’s high-tech industry which appears to be ahead of the pack. In March, Intel announced its intent “to manufacture the world’s first verified, conflict-free microprocessor by 2013,” and it’s on the path to meeting that goal.
Earlier this year, the Washington DC-based Enough Project, a group of advocates and policy makers heavily focused on ending genocide and crimes against humanity in Congo, ranked Intel number one for its efforts to eradicate from its products minerals mined from conflict zones.
The Enough Project scored 24 global high-tech companies according to how well they are tracking conflict minerals in their supply chain and how rigorous their attempts to avoid conflict minerals (tantalum, tin, tungsten and gold) sourced from conflict mines.
Intel got the highest ranking because of its steps to trace and audit its supply chain and help Congo develop a clean trade. HP ranks number two, with Philips coming a close third.
Activism and consumer pressure have proven powerful motivators for industry. This as well as new regulations recently promulgated by the Securities and Exchange Commission which demands companies document their supply chain fully and weed out conflict minerals.
While this ruling has prompted some big-name companies to avoid doing business in Congo altogether, Intel says this is the wrong approach:
“What we found when we were over there [in Congo] is that there’s really only two major industries: its farming, and its mining,” says Intel’s chief operating officer Brian Krzanich. “So, if we were to ban materials from that country, we would be depriving the local people of one of two of their main sources of livelihood, and we wanted to avoid that at all cost. But we did want to ensure that we had a good conflict free source of all minerals.”
Intel’s proactive approach has put it one step ahead of the game and proves that implementing traceability through the supply chain is not only possible, but also makes good business sense.
Has conflict minerals law affected your business?