US Requires Gadget Makers to Identify “Conflict Minerals” in Products

Remember the story on Conflict Minerals we posted awhile back? Well it looks like the US Government is moving to try and deal with the very messy situation. A new US law now requires gadget makers to disclose if their products use any minerals (primarily tin, tantalum, and tungsten, but also gold, mined from the Congo and 9 countries that surround the Congo. The reason for the other 9 countries is that apparently the folks who mine the materials like to cross borders and smuggle the minerals out of other countries in attempts to avoid detection.

As I’m reading about this topic this morning, I don’t think you’ll see labels on products saying “made with Conflict Minerals” but manufacturers can choose to market their products as “Conflict Mineral Free” if they can certify their products are indeed so. The law doesn’t ban the minerals, but requires companies to report annually on whether or not they use the Conflict Minerals. If they do use the minerals they need to undergo an audit designed to pinpoint which mine the minerals came from.

As I said, this is a messy situation. While some are hailing this as a very positive step, others are pointing out that for many in the Congo, the hard manual labor of mining the minerals is their only means of employment and the fear is that moves like this might lead to that work being diminished.