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EU Responsible mineral sourcing framework, when?

EU Responsible mineral sourcing framework, when?

Conflict minerals are minerals mined in conditions of armed conflict and human rights abuses, mostly in the eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The most commonly mined minerals are cassiterite, wolframite, coltan and gold, which are extracted from the Eastern Congo, and passed through a variety of intermediaries before being purchased by multinational electronics companies.

Currently, international measures exist to promote responsible sourcing of minerals in areas at risk or affected by armed conflict but they are not sufficient. The two best-known were adopted in 2011 and 2010 respectively: the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas (OECD Due Diligence Guidance) and Section 1502 of the United States Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

In June 2013, G8 leaders expressed their commitment to increase transparency in the extractive industry and the European Commission have been working to legislate along the lines of US legislation which has already adopted a binding system for verifying the origin of the minerals it imports. In March 2014, the EU Commission published their proposal for a Regulation in order to set up a Union system for supply chain due diligence self-certification of responsible importers of tin, tantalum and tungsten, their ores, and gold originating in conflict-affected and high-risk areas. The main objective of this proposal is to help to reduce the financing of armed groups and security forces through mineral proceeds in conflict-affected and high-risk areas by supporting and further promoting responsible sourcing practices of EU companies in relation to these minerals. In February 2016, a new round of negotiations began in Brussels to try to reach a compromise on these conflict minerals but the process has stalled over disagreements on supply chain monitoring, as there is a wide gap between the proposals of the Parliament and those of the member states, which broadly support a non-binding opt-in system.

Photo credit: MONUSCO via / CC BY-SA

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