Tech Companies Take the Lead to Certify Conflict-Free Minerals

Tech Companies Take the Lead to Certify Conflict-Free Minerals

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Thursday, June 19, 2014 - 4:00pm


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On June 2nd, a rule in 2010’s Dodd Frank Act took effect. It requires U.S. companies with products that might contain conflict minerals to report to the SEC on whether those metals came from mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Four rare elements—gold, tin, tungsten, and tantalum—power our many devices, from computers and tablets to phones and game stations. Much of the ore that contains these metals has historically come from mines in the DRC, mines run by militias that have sold these valuable ingredients at a bargain price to fund their operations in a decades-long civil war that has cost millions of lives.

Here’s the update: out of 300 to 600 smelters around the world that turn ore into metal, about 100 have been certified as free of conflict minerals, according to the Conflict-Free Sourcing Initiative, an industry group. Tech companies are taking the lead in pushing compliance by these global suppliers. Intel has certified that its suppliers—86 of them in 21 countries—are conflict free. Apple, Dell, Microsoft, and Hewlett-Packard have also made substantial progress in auditing their suppliers and in hiring accredited third party certifiers to confirm compliance. With around 2,000 companies across seven sectors that are affected by this rule, and with some 200 to 500 global smelters unaccounted for, there’s still a lot of work to be done to ensure responsible sourcing. 

I’m John Howell for 3BL Media.

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