Friday, October 22, 2010

‘Blood Minerals’ in the Supply Chain

(Supply Demand Chain Executive – Andrew K. Reese)

Compliance to the new financial reform bill will pose unique challenges

The 848-page financial reform bill signed into law in the U.S. on July 21 (the “Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010”) contains a six-page section, starting on page 838, that addresses the issue of “Conflict Minerals” coming into the supply chain from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The goal of Section 1502 is to ensure that certain minerals coming from the DRC are “conflict-free” – that is, not fueling the ongoing violence that has left more than 5 million people dead, and not funding the armed parties that have employed forced labor, child slavery and sexual terror as standard practice to control the minerals trade.

The minerals covered in the law – coltan (columbite-tantalite, a source of tantalum), cassiterite (tin), wolframite (tungsten) and gold – are used extensively in a variety of industrial, consumer and electronics products. Tin is used as a solder on circuit boards. Tantalum capacitors are used widely in the technology supply chain. Tungsten is used as tungsten carbide in applications like turning tools and milling, but it’s also used in cell phones to make them vibrate. Gold is used in jewelry, of course, but also used for the gold plating, printed circuit boards, connectors, switches and other electronic components. Collectively the minerals are referred to as the “3Ts, plus gold.” Read more here.