Conflict minerals

Conflict minerals are any minerals that are mined to support an armed conflict.  Conflict minerals, which includes conflict diamonds or blood diamonds, are part of the problematic international issue of conflict resources.

The four main conflict minerals.
Image: Wikimedia Commons

Some conflict minerals are used in the manufacture of electronics devices such as mobile phones and computers.  These minerals  are cassiterite, coltan, wolframite, and gold ore which are respectively a source of tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold.  Cobalt, while not a conflict mineral as such, is another mineral used in electronics with which there are associated humanitarian issues.

The reduction in demand for new products, the repair of electronics items, and recycling of e-waste all help to reduce the demand for conflict minerals.

Some political jurisdictions are already working on, or have already passed legislation on the control of conflict minerals.  In the United States Section 1502 of the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act requires manufacturers to disclose the use of conflict minerals used in products.  As of 2016 the European Union is continuing with developing the regulation of conflict minerals entering into member countries.

Some international organisations are also working on the issue.  The OECD has produced a due diligence guideline that was accepted by the United Nations Security Council.  It is not a legally binding document.

In early 2016, after responding to a written request from Ecotech Services,  Minister for the Environment Nick Smith said that the New Zealand government was not doing any work towards controlling the use of conflict minerals.  Even though there is no legislation on conflict resources some New Zealand based companies have policies on preventing them from entering their supply chains, for example QuickCircuit and Synergy Electronics.

Further information

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