Extracting and processing minerals to obtain metals involves a series of actions which cause a significant environmental and social impact that linger over time beyond the activity period of said extractions.
Many services are now incorporating digital technology which means that metal is present in a number of sectors, ranging from the automotive industry and equipment manufacturers to the technology sector and terminal manufacturers. This rise in the use of electrical components has increased the impact on society and the environment. This is why the responsible supply of minerals has become an increasingly important and current topic, both from a regulatory and public opinion standpoint.
It refers to four types of minerals which mainly come from The Democratic Republic of Congo (“DRC”) and the Great Lakes Region – Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, The Republic of Congo, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda or Zambia (the “Covered Countries”).
The name “conflict minerals” refers to the fact that the profits gained by selling these minerals finances armed groups in the region which prolongs conflict and advocates human rights abuses.
- Cassiterite: A mineral from which the metal tin is extracted. Cassiterite is used in electronic apparatus (welding), coatings and as a stabiliser in plastics.
- Columbite-tantalite or “Coltan”: Is a high-conductivity mineral from which tantalum is extracted. Coltan is used for manufacturing electronic apparatus.
- Wolframite: A mineral from which the mineral tungsten, used as a cable for electric and welding appliances, is extracted.
- Gold: Used in jewellery and electronics.
A third of the world’s tin comes from Indonesia and its extraction plays an important role in local development. Contrary to what happens in The Great Lakes region, the situation in Indonesia is not determined by conflict but rather by the impact in extraction on both the environment and human rights. It is important to note that the former affects marine and terrestrial ecosystems. The latter essentially refers to the dangerous working conditions and child labour that are characteristic of secondary mining in the area.
For more information on this refer to:http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/press_releases/mobile_industry_bangka_31072013.html
Practice is increasingly to consider all 3TG minerals to be conflict minerals; regardless its origin, hence, this list might be extended in the near future.
Regulation of the European Parliament on minerals
The proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament on minerals from conflict-affected areas establishes a voluntary process by means of which EU importers of tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold will be able to self-certify that they do not contribute to the funding of armed conflicts.