HP, Intel, Sony are among the 21 electronics companies, industry groups and NGOs that have joined a U.S. government-led effort to create a reputable supply chain for conflict-free minerals in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Public-Private Alliance for Responsible Minerals Trade formally launches next month in Washington, D.C., but the initiative was introduced on a global stage last week when Maria Otero, the U.S. under secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs of the Secretary of State's Department, visited the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In answer to the growing scrutiny and criticism of over use of tin, tantalum, tungsten or gold sourced from the strife-torn country, the Security Exchange Commission next yeår will require companies of all types to know and report whether they use minerals in their products.
Critics have pointed out the disclosure alone won't stop the brutal mineral trade and rampant civil abuses that fuel the combat by warlords. And without support for a clean supply chain, it's feared that the mineral trade in the region could be abandoned by the business world entirely, leaving an impoverished population with even fewer resources for sustenance.
The responsible minerals trade group is intended to attack the problem on three fronts:
- The alliance is expected to help develop a pilot network of supply chain systems that are based on mines which have been audited and certified to be conflict free.
- The group is to serve as a "coordination platform" for the various government agencies, industries and others participating in the effort.
- The alliance is set up en online resources for companies that want information about responsible sourcing of minerals from the a website designed to serve as a resource for companies seeking information regarding how to responsibly source minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The U.S. Agency for International Development is providing $3.2 million in funding for mine certification and work related to traceability. Participating companies and industry groups are expected to kick in at least $2 million.
Here are the firms and organizations that plan to join the alliance pending review by the U.S. government and formal agreement by the parties. The prospective alliance members are:
1. Advanced Micro Devices
2. H.C. Starck
5. Motorola Solutions, Inc.
7. Sony Corporation
10. Toshiba Corporation
11. Verizon Communications
12. Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC)
13. Enough Project
14. Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI)
15. International Conference on the Great Lakes Region
16. ITRI on behalf of the iTSCi project
17. Jewish World Watch
19. Partnership Africa Canada / Partenariat Afrique Canada
20. Responsible Sourcing Network
21. World Gold Council
Strategies to address the problem of conflict minerals will be among the discussion topics at the BSR Conference 2011, Redefining Leadership, next month. Speakers will include representatives from Intel, Ford and TE Connectivity. Presenters from HP, Pact and the Responsible Sourcing Network also took up the issue this past spring at the Ceres Conference.
Image CC licensed by Flickr user Jurvetson.