London Mining Network has been campaigning on the issue of the European Union’s internal negotiations over a proposed law to ensure specific minerals entering the EU have been sourced responsibly, and without funding conflict and human rights abuses (see:
The European Parliament has supported a position calling for a more meaningful legislation. The Parliament entered into so called ‘trilogue’ negotiations with the European Commission and individual states represented by the Council of Europe. Generally the Commission was pushing for a less far-reaching and more voluntary law, with the Council was on the whole supporting the Commission’s position.
Negotiations had not proceeded easily, and the Dutch Government – as President of the Council – was keen to ensure a deal was done under its presidency (which expires at the end of June). On 15th June it was announced that the trilogue had achieved a breakthrough in outlining the major parts of a deal on a law.
As expected the compromise deal has attracted criticism, and is also vague on some of the key sticking points, meaning there is much to work out in the detail. One positive point is that a commitment to respect the standards in the OECD Due Diligence Guidance on Responsible Supply Chains has been strengthened. At one point it looked like any new legislation could undermine these globally recognised standards.
Unfortunately the proposed regulation focuses on imports of the commodities used to make finished goods, in line with the Commission’s original proposal, but not on the demands from the Parliament to cover the finished products. i.e. to cover the ‘downstream’ on the supply chain. It does ensure that the vast majority of commodity importers of tin, tungsten, tantalum, gold and their ores will have to do mandatory “due diligence” checks on their suppliers, but the threshold of smaller importers who will escape the ‘burden’ of the regulations has not yet been set.
A group of 130 non-governmental organizations urged the European Union to use its leverage to extend the definition to cover ‘downstream’ importers, who make up the bulk of those European companies who could be affected. They said: “As civil society organizations, we have therefore called for a strong and effective regulation that would require all companies bringing these minerals into the EU, in whatever form, to perform some basic checks and due diligence on their supply chains,” the letter said.
As noted in a joint press release from those campaigning on the issue “the agreement represents a first step in the right direction, but the law ultimately risks falling well short of its intended objective … by agreeing to exempt [downstream] corporations from the law, the EU has instead put its faith in the hope that companies will choose to source minerals responsibly without being required to do so”
There will be a review clause specifying that the Commission will assess the effectiveness of the regulation, as regards downstream operators. In particular, it will assess the proportion of downstream operators which will have an adequate due diligence system in place and how they implement it. And the Commission has committed to support companies in terms of assisting with guidelines and reporting.
So as noted, much needs to still be defined. The Slovak presidency will take over for the technical discussions and the legal drafting. Yesterday, the Dutch presidency confirmed that they offered the Slovaks support, but it’s not clear yet how this will look like.
The Greens in The European Parliament made the political agreement public, confirming their commitment to transparency. It can be viewed at:
Some key articles and actions on the letter follow…

European Union reaches outline deal to stem flow of conflict minerals
By Barbara Lewis
15 June 2016
BRUSSELS – The European Union on Wednesday agreed an outline deal on a law to clean up the commodities supply chain, so importers will have to carry out checks to stem the use of gold and other metals from conflict zones, European politicians said.
Human rights campaigners said the agreement was progress after months of argument, although it did not go far enough. Industrial users of the relevant commodities said the compromise struck the right balance.
“This deal is a breakthrough,” said Dutch Green Member of the European Parliament Judith Sargentini, who was involved in the negotiations. She added it was “only a partial response”, but welcomed a commitment for a review to assess progress.
The EU rules will cover conflict minerals from anywhere in the world, meaning they go further in geographic scope than U.S. Dodd-Frank legislation finalised in 2012.
The U.S. law insists on scrutiny of imports of tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and nine neighboring countries as raw materials and when used in products such as mobile phones, electrical goods and cars.
The EU regulation focuses on imports of the commodities used to make them, in line with the European Commission’s original proposal, but not with demands from the European Parliament to cover the “upstream” or finished products.
The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA), which represents firms, such as Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE), Peugeot and Ford, said it supported the Commission’s aim to increase transparency in minerals trade.
“It (ACEA) considers that the upstream part of the supply chain has the best leverage to achieve transparency in mineral sourcing and to effectively combat the financing of armed conflicts,” it said in a statement.
“Compliance obligations for downstream companies should be avoided as they are extremely burdensome and costly in case of highly complex supply chains.”
In an open letter this week a group of 130 non-governmental organizations urged the European Union to use its leverage as the world’s largest trading block and a significant destination of minerals that fund conflicts.
“As civil society organizations, we have therefore called for a strong and effective regulation that would require all companies bringing these minerals into the EU, in whatever form, to perform some basic checks and due diligence on their supply chains,” the letter said.
Wednesday’s deal is based on guidelines for responsible supply chains established by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Tyler Gillard, an OECD legal adviser, said the EU regulation would be “an important step toward ensuring business avoids contributing to conflict and serious human rights impacts linked to the production and trade of minerals”.
The agreement requires months of technical work before it can be implemented as EU law, EU sources said.
(Barbara Lewis)

EU political agreement on conflict minerals risks allowing a deadly trade to continue
Joint press release
15 June 2016
Despite its rhetoric on responsible business Europe has prioritised profit over people, said civil
society organisations after European Union (EU) institutions agreed on a new law intended to tackle
the European conflict minerals trade.
The extraction and trade of minerals has been linked to conflict and human rights abuses around the
world. The EU is a major destination for minerals, with companies bringing them into Europe in both
their raw form and as part of everyday products from laptops and mobile phones to engines and
After months of negotiations, EU institutions have reached agreement on a law designed to make
sure that minerals entering the EU have been sourced responsibly and without funding conflict and
human rights abuses. The agreement represents a first step in the right direction, but the law
ultimately risks falling well short of its intended objective. EU policy makers have caved in to the
demands of big business by exempting the vast majority of EU companies trading in minerals from
the law.
“Today’s decision leaves companies that import minerals in their products entirely off the hook. It’s a
half-hearted attempt to tackle the trade in conflict minerals which will only hold companies
importing the raw materials to basic checks,” said Iverna McGowan, Head of Amnesty International’s
European Institutions Office. “The EU has international obligations to protect human rights but went
only half way to meet them. EU investors and consumers still won’t have any certainty that the
companies they deal with are behaving responsibly. This law will change little – too little.”
By agreeing to exempt these corporations from the law, the EU has instead put its faith in the hope
that companies will choose to source minerals responsibly without being required to do so. This has
been tried before, through voluntary standards. These have had minimal impact, as there are still far
too few companies taking steps to check their supply chains for conflict and human rights risks.
“While we recognise the efforts of those, especially within Parliament, who have fought for a Europe
in which ‘business as usual’ means responsible business,” said Michael Gibb of Global Witness, “we
are disappointed the EU has not matched its words with action. With EU laws now falling behind
those in other countries, the EU is rapidly becoming the weak link in the mineral supply chain. While
this is an important step, the EU should have gone much further to make full use of a unique
opportunity to make a real difference.”
The agreement promises a review of the law’s effectiveness few years after application.
“This law can only be a first step. It must be implemented swiftly so that it can soon be extended to
companies that import these minerals as part of manufactured goods” said Maria van der Heide
from ActionAid. “Communities in conflict-affected and high risk areas will only be able to benefit
from their resource wealth and be freed from the cycle of violence related to the trade in conflict
minerals if companies along the entire supply chain follow responsible sourcing practices.”
Communities that continue to bear the cost of irresponsible trading, as well as civil society
organisations across the world, will now be looking to Europe’s governments to prove that the law
delivers on their promise to ensure that European businesses source responsibly. Only then will
Europe and its companies be part of global progress towards making mineral supply chains more
transparent, responsible, and sustainable.
Notes to the Editor
International standards do not aim to discourage sourcing from fragile and high-risk areas. Rather,
they encourage companies to do so with the appropriate levels of care and vigilance. Yet EU policy
makers have opted to develop an indicative list of conflict affected and high-risk areas, risking
market distortions and overlooking risks that arise outside of such areas.
In addition to limiting the number of companies covered by the law to just a few hundred, EU
Member States have also sought to outsource their enforcement responsibilities by placing private
industry initiatives at the centre of the law. Companies that join recognised schemes are
automatically deemed compliant with the Regulation and are assumed to be “low risk” by
enforcement authorities.
On the basis of the political agreement, the three institutions will continue negotiations on the
technical implementation. This process is expected to last several months.
For further information contact:
Amnesty International
Tel: +32 2 502 1499; email:
Global Witness
Rosie Childs: Tel: +44 7725 260 530; email:
Action Aid
Maria Van der Heide: Tel +31 (0)642270763; Email:
Joakim Wohlfeil: Tel:  +46(0) 705 156145; email:

Conflict minerals: MEPs secure mandatory due diligence for importers
INTA Press release
16 June 2016
All but the smallest EU firms importing tin, tungsten, tantalum, gold and their ores will have to do “due diligence” checks on their suppliers, to stop this trade being used to help fund conflicts and human rights abuses, says a political understanding reached by MEPs, ministers and the EU Commission on Wednesday. Due diligence will also be mandatory for smelters and refiners. The EU Commission will press big manufacturers to disclose details of products that might contain conflict minerals.
“We need to finally break the vicious cycle between trade in minerals and the financing of conflicts – today marks an important waypoint towards achieving this goal. It is a first step for the EU to make a real difference for people on the ground. We need to end the suffering of people being forced to mine precious metals and do our utmost to prevent violent conflicts. We succeeded in pushing for mandatory measures instead of a voluntary system – a huge success achieved by the European Parliament”, said Trade Committee Chair Bernd Lange (S&D, DE)
“I note with great satisfaction that the shared-responsibility approach, promoted by me as a Rapporteur, has prevailed during the very difficult and highly technical negotiations. It is extremely important that the recognition of existing and future due diligence industry schemes has become the central element of the Conflict Minerals Regulation. I stand committed to the agreement that has been reached between the co-legislators on the way forward. This common understanding is an excellent basis for continuing the work towards an efficient and workable regulation, truly serving the interests of people and communities caught in war and conflict”, said rapporteur Iuliu Winkler (EPP, RO).
MEPs win mandatory due diligence rules for importers
MEPs persuaded ministers that due diligence checks, conducted according to OECD due diligence guidelines, should be mandatory for importers of tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold and their ores from conflict and high-risk areas. The Commission and Council initially proposed only voluntary checks. EU member states’ competent authorities will be responsible for ensuring compliance by companies, and also for determining penalties for non-compliance, to be monitored by the EU Commission.
No burden on small firms
MEPs and ministers, aiming for almost full coverage of the imported minerals and metals, agreed that the smallest importers (e.g. for dentistry) should not be obliged to comply with a due diligence scheme, so as to avoid encumbering their businesses with unreasonable bureaucratic burdens. Recycled metals, existing EU stocks and by-products are excluded from the regulation.
Disclosure requirements for big EU manufacturers and sellers
Parliament also secured an EU push for due diligence by companies whose products contain tin, tungsten, tantalum or gold in their supply chain. Big EU firms that make or sell such goods – i.e. those subject to EU law on “non-financial reporting” (above 500 employees) – will be encouraged to report on their sourcing practices based on a new set of performance indicators to be developed by the EU Commission. Moreover, these businesses will be able to join a registry to be set up by the Commission and report voluntarily on their due diligence practices.
Review clause
The deal also requires the EU Commission to review and report to Parliament and the Council on the effectiveness of the new law – both its impact on the ground and the compliance by the EU firms, and, should it not suffice to induce the desired effect, consider additional mandatory measures.
Next steps
The technical details of the legislation agreed in principle on Wednesday still need to be worked out. The Dutch Presidency of the Council has pledged to conclude the informal legislative negotiations with the MEPs before its term ends on 1 July. Further political “trilogues” (three-way talks) under the Slovak presidency might be needed to seal the final text of the legislation before it is approved by Parliament in plenary session.
Background: definitions
Due diligence: as defined by international OECD due diligence guidelines to help companies respect human rights and avoid contributing to conflict through their mineral purchasing decisions and practices. Currently they have the status of recommendations. The recognition of existing and future industry due diligence schemes became a central element of the regulation. Conditions for recognition of such schemes should be robust and aligned with the OECD guidelines.
Conflict minerals – Tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold are used in the production of many high-tech devices, in the automotive, electronics, aerospace, packaging, construction, lighting, industrial machinery and tooling industries, as well as in jewelry.
Conflict-affected and high-risk areas – The regulation applies to all conflict-affected and high risk areas in the world, of which the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Great Lakes area are the most obvious example. According to the political understanding, the Commission will select experts via a tender procedure to draw up an indicative and non-exhaustive list of areas and other due diligence issues to be addressed in a “Handbook for the operators” to be developed by the EU Commission. Companies sourcing from areas that are not on the list will nonetheless be responsible for doing due diligence checks on sources.
REF. : 20160615IPR32320
Updated: ( 16-06-2016 – 13:39)
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Europe’s unique chance to clean up its trade in minerals
By Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga
15 June 2016
Around the world, multinational companies dealing with natural resources are fighting a global battle to access, control and extract precious stones, oil, gas, minerals and even plants, writes Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga.
Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga is Archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and the coordinator of the council of cardinal advisors to Pope Francis.
And as in every battle, civilians pay the strongest price, with casualties occurring every day.
My continent, Latin America, has recently experienced a wave of shock and incredulity after the murder of Honduran activist Berta Cáceres. The groundbreaking solidarity movement that followed exposed to the world that the appetite for natural resources is so strong that human lives can be sacrificed in the name of “development”.
And whereas Berta Cáceres’s case reached international media, countless other cases of daily human rights abuses stay unknown. While the globally-known companies delivering everyday consumer products may not be the ones directly holding the weapons responsible for the death of many civilians, they have a strong responsibility through their business practices. In the mining sector, this collusion between natural resources extraction and increased conflicts is expressed in the words “conflict minerals”.
In countries including Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo or Myanmar, local churches witness that populations living near mining areas are suffering intensely from the presence of armed groups who violate on a daily basis the most basic human rights.
Child labour and sexual abuse
They profit from child labour, illegally tax workers and often sexually abuse the women present near mining areas. The armed groups profit from the resources contained in the soil, whose extraction provides them with funds to continue their deadly activities. Those same minerals are then used building the production of mobile phones, laptops, or jet engines. Cutting the source of funding of armed groups is essential to prevent further human rights violations and to stop fuelling conflict.
In May 2015, nearly 150 Bishops from around the world joined together to call for an ambitious EU regulation on conflict minerals in a statement coordinated by CIDSE, the international family of Catholic social justice organisations. With the European Commission having put forward a draft proposal for a voluntary measure with limited scope, the European Parliament then showed strong leadership by voting in favour of a binding regulation that would apply to all businesses dealing with the concerned minerals, including those importing finished products into the EU market.
This week now marks the final stretch in political negotiations on the conflict minerals regulation between the European Commission, the 28 EU member states that form the EU Council and the European Parliament.
European union hypocrisy?
With some European member states pressuring to water down the parliament’s regulation by going back to a partial and largely voluntary system, those of us working with communities suffering from violence must ask: why does the European Union on the one hand claim to be a leader for global human rights, while on the other hand trying to weaken a strong proposal which would better protect vulnerable men, women and children?
The bishops’ statement on conflict minerals emphasises that “As images and stories of horrors inflicted on vulnerable children, women and men in conflicts around the world strike us daily, citizens are expecting guarantees that they are not complicit. The indifference of a few, who look away from their part of responsibility for other peoples’ pain, threatens our shared human dignity. To stop this, new rules are urgently needed to ensure that the bounty of God’s creation does not serve unquestioning consumption while underwriting the destruction of life.
The earth’s resources must be managed wisely by good stewards, with assurances for people at both ends of today’s global supply chains that join us as to the morality of our trading.
Today I express my support for this call. In Latin America where I come from, and in many other places around the globe, people are increasingly standing up to denounce certain private vested interests influencing political choices.
In Europe, there has been much recent outrage over automotive enterprises cheating on emissions standards, while agribusiness interests aim to keep pesticides on the market, to the widespread detriment of citizens’ health. Let me also recall that one year ago Pope Francis published his encyclical Laudato Si addressed to all people worldwide calling on us for an ecological conversion and pointing out that “there are too many special interests, and economic interests easily end up trumping the common good and manipulating information so that their own plans will not be affected” and “urges that the interests of economic groups which irrationally demolish sources of life should not prevail in dealing with natural resources” (Laudato Si, 54).
Europe, the continent who won the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize, has a great responsibility towards the communities affected by conflict minerals. For that, it is urgent that EU decision makers target all companies dealing with “conflict minerals” along the entire supply chain in line with the OECD’s international standard, with a mandatory due diligence requirement. Not doing so, wouldn’t change things on the ground. This circle of suffering and violence can still be stopped.
I am eager to see a Europe that through its policies puts what is right for women and men first. We are all one shared humanity, living in our common home: it is simply not acceptable that trade and extraction of natural resources cause suffering. There are no second-class citizens of this world towards whom we can allow this to happen.

Letter to Dutch Presidency from multiple NGOs
Dear Dutch Presidency, we need effective law on conflict minerals
13 June 2016
In an open letter to the Dutch Presidency of the Council of the European Union, and the 28 member states, some 126 NGOs call for tighter regulation of conflict minerals, including Amnesty International and Global Witness.
Global Witness, Amnesty International and another 124 NGOs have signed the open letter below – please see the ‘Futher Reading’ box for a full list of signatories.
Minerals are key components in many everyday products, from mobile phones, laptops, and jewellery, to cars and light bulbs.
In too many cases, however, the extraction and trade of these resources is linked to conflicts and human rights abuses. Civil society organisations have been documenting the links between minerals and these abuses for years,but these abuses persist EU institutions are currently working on a regulation that aims to tackle the sometimes deadly trade in four of these minerals – tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold.
This initiative is long overdue. The EU is the largest trading block in the world and a significant destination for these minerals. The EU is also a major market for many of the products that contain these minerals; it is the second largest importer of mobile phones and laptops in the world.
With power comes responsibility…
With this come both a responsibility and the power to make a real difference by making sure its companies are sourcing minerals responsibly.
In the minerals sector, the leading international standard for responsible business is the Due Diligence Guidance developed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
This standard has been endorsed by the EU and by doing so, it made a commitment to implementing it.
Unfortunately, EU member states have little to show from years of voluntary initiatives and encouragement.
As civil society organisations we have therefore called for a strong and effective regulation that would require all companies bringing these minerals into the EU – in whatever form – to perform some basic checks and due diligence on their supply chains, as is common in other sectors from food to financial services.
Our calls have been echoed by business leaders, investors, religious leaders, and leading civil society activists. Through over 362,000 actions, EU citizens have also made it clear that they expect to be able to purchase products that have been sourced responsibly, transparently and sustainably.
In May 2015 the European Parliament took a strong stance by voting for a binding law that would cover companies importing into the EU minerals in their raw form, as well as in products containing them. But more than a year later, negotiations are still ongoing. member states, in particular, have pushed back, promoting voluntary measures and self-regulation by business, while seeking to entirely exempt companies that import products containing these minerals from the scope of the law.
The Dutch government, acting as President of the Council of the EU, has worked hard to secure an agreement over the past few months. We recognise and welcome this initiative that has introduced some much needed momentum into negotiations, but there is still work to be done to find an agreement that will effectively tackle the conflict and human rights risks in the mineral supply chains.
Including companies that import products containing minerals in the regulation is vital to its effectiveness and impact.
Many of the minerals that risk being linked to human rights abuses and conflict enter the EU inside manufactured products, and it is as a major destination for such products that the EU exerts its most significant commercial leverage over the supply chain. Companies that import these products must be covered by the regulation if the EU is to establish an effective due diligence system which prompts OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible supply chains of minerals from conflict-affected and high-risk areas
Through petitions and e-mails addressed to EU decision-makers since May 2015:
EU citizens have also made it clear that they expect to be companies throughout the supply chain to identify and mitigate the risk of contributing to conflict and human rights violations through their business activities. The OECD Due Diligence system is specifically designed to include companies along the entire supply chain.
We are calling on the Council to listen not only to the European Parliament, but also to the many activists, investors, civil society, and citizens that have called for a strong and effective EU law. At a minimum, this means a regulation that covers companies that import into the EU minerals in their raw form as well as companies that import products containing these minerals.
We also urge the Dutch government to make full use of its remaining time as President of the Council of the EU and continue to facilitate a constructive dialogue between the co-legislators.
There is still time to deliver the regulation that the EU, and the communities that provide the resources upon which we are increasingly dependent, both deserve and need.
Signed by:-
1 Amnesty International
2 Global Witness
3 Action Aid
4 ACCIÓN LIBERADORA, Fundación / member of REDES-ONGD
9 Afro-Asiatisches Institut in Wien
10 Agir Ensemble pour les Droits de l’Homme
11 Alboan
12 AMANI , Laicos Combonianos por el Sur / member of REDES-ONGD
13 AMARANTA, Fundación de Solidaridad / member of REDES-ONGD
14 AMI ONLUS (Associazione Maendeleo-Italia ONLUS)
15 Amigos de la Tierra – Spain
16 AMSALA / member of REDES-ONGD
17 Associazione Comunità Papa Giovanni XXIII
18 Associazione Tumaini – un Ponte di Solidarietà
22 Berne Declaration, Switzerland
23 Broederlijk Delen (Belgium)
24 Bruder und Schwester in Not – Diözese Innsbruck, Austria
26 Business & Human Rights Resource Centre
28 CCFD-Terre Solidaire
29 CEEweb for Biodiversity
30 Celim Milano
31 Christian Aid
32 Christliche Initiative Romero
33 CMSR Centro Mondialità Sviluppo Reciproco
34 Comissió Justícia i Pau Barcelona
35 Comitato delle associazioni per la Pace e i Diritti Umani
36 Comitato trentino NOPPAW
37 Commission Justice et Paix Belgique francophone
39 Coopération Internationale pour le Développement et la Solidarité – CIDSE
40 Coordinamento Associazioni della Vallagarina per l’Africa
43 CRUZ BLANCA, Fundación / member of REDES-ONGD
45 CVM Comunità Volontari per il Mondo
46 Danish Confederation of Trade Unions
47 Delwende, ONGD / member of REDES-ONGD
48 Diakonia
50 DKA Austria
54 EurAc
55 European Coalition for Corporate Justice – ECCJ
57 Federazione Organismi Cristiani di Servizio Internazionale Volontario -FOCSIV
58 Finance & Trade Watch, Austria
61 Forest Peoples Programme, United Kingdom
62 Forschungs- und Dokumentationszentrum Chile-Lateinamerika e.V
64 Friends of the Earth Europe
66 Fundación Mainel
69 German Watch
70 Gruppo Autonomo Volontari per la Cooperazione e lo Sviluppo del Terzo Mondo
71 HAREN ALDE / member of REDES-ONGD
72 Institute of Global Responsibility – Poland
74 Jesuit European Social Center – JESC
75 Jesuit Missions
76 JUAN CIUDAD ONGD para la salud / member of REDES-ONGD
77 KARIT Solidarios por la paz / member of REDES-ONGD
KOO- Koordinierungsstelle der Österr. Bischofskonferenz f. internationale Entwicklung
und Mission
80 La Bretxa
83 Latin American Mining Monitoring programme – LAMMP
84 London Mining Network
85 MADRESELVA, Fundación / member of REDES-ONGD
88 Milieudefensie, Friends of the Earth Netherlands
89 Misereor
90 MISIÓN SIN FRONTERAS, Amigos de Comboni / member of REDES-ONGD
91 OCASHA, Cristianos con el Sur / member of REDES-ONGD
92 Ökumenisches Netz Zentralafrika
93 p.h Balanced Films
94 Panzi Foundation (USA
95 PMU
96 Polish Institute for Human Rights and Business
97 Power Shift e.V
98 PROCLADE BETICA, Fundación / member of REDES-ONGD
99 PROCLADE CANARIAS, Fundación / member of REDES-ONGD
101 PROKARDE, / member of REDES-ONGD
106 Rete Pace per il Congo
109 Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund
112 Sherpa
115 Siloé, Asociación / member of REDES-ONGD
116 Solidarietà e Cooperazione
117 Solidarietà-Muungano Onlus
119 SOMO
121 Stop Mad Minning
125 Urgewald Germany
126 Welthaus Dioezese Graz-Seckau

Get ready for the coming EU ‘conflict minerals’ regulation
18 April 2016
The ‘conflict minerals’ regulation under preparation in the EU will likely go beyond the United States’ equivalent rules under the 2010 Dodd Frank Act. Hundreds of thousands of companies could end up being required to report on their sourcing of tin, tantalum, and tungsten. Better for them to get ready now, writes James Appleyard.
A ‘red-flagged’ bundle of emails has steadily been accumulating in many a sourcing and procurement professional’s inbox over the last two years. But as legislators iron out the finer points of the EU’s new conflict minerals law, how many companies can confidently say that they are fully up to speed with how the new regulations will affect their operations?
In potentially six months’ time, a whole range of businesses are likely to find themselves subject to an EU-wide mandatory system of self-certified supply chain due diligence for those who source 3TG (tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold) from ‘conflict-affected and high-risk areas’. Indeed, some of the wilder estimates suggest that the proposed regulation could apply to as many as 880,000 companies either in the EU or with EU interests. And of these, how many have done their homework, and how many will be playing compliance catch-up at the last minute?
Thanks to the conflict minerals reporting provisions of the US Dodd-Frank law, passed in 2010, a minority of EU-based companies now possess some experience of eliminating 3TG from their supply chain. For the majority of businesses, however, Brussels’ future mandatory reporting obligations will be their first attempt at tracing conflict minerals in the supply chain.
Discussions between the three central EU institutions are now underway to reach a final compromise on the draft law, and a final resolution is expected during Slovakia’s presidency of the Council of the European Union, in the second half of 2016. Businesses therefore need to act fast, to either develop an internal conflict minerals programme from scratch, or to scale up their existing compliance programmes to meet the responsible sourcing requirements that the EU is likely to introduce – potentially by the end of this year.
Widening scope of due diligence
Without a doubt, Brussels’ plan to widen the scope of conflict minerals due diligence beyond the limited geographical scope of Dodd-Frank will place severe strain on businesses’ nascent responsible sourcing capabilities. Many of the companies that have previously filed conflict minerals reports to the US Securities Exchange Commission have taken painstaking measures to ensure that the 3TG they source from the DR Congo comes from legitimate mines. However, Brussels’ decision to cast the compliance net further afield to include ‘conflict-affected and high-risk areas’ generates a fresh new wave of compliance headaches.
Shifting the geographical goalposts for conflict minerals supply chain due diligence could, in effect, mean not only tracing tantalum from DR Congo, but also tungsten from China, gold from Zimbabwe and tin from Myanmar. If past experience is anything to go by, the difficulties businesses encountered in meeting the reporting requirements of Dodd-Frank are highly likely to be replicated and indeed exacerbated by the EU’s more geographically far-reaching system. Therefore, now is the time for many businesses to rapidly take stock of the different actors along their supply chains from which they may be procuring tainted 3TG.
Identifying ethically tainted 3TG is not straightforward, however. As a precursor for responsible management, companies need to establish a dialogue with downstream and, if possible, upstream business partners to provide insight into their sourcing practices. On top of that, sourcing and procurement professionals must evaluate the degree to which the participation of their business partners in established certification schemes, such as the Conflict-Free Smelter Program, support their compliance with the EU’s proposed regulation.
Even if companies succeed in peeling back the layers of their mineral supply chains to the critical smelter/refinery level, further barriers to tracing conflict minerals may remain: the mixing of ores from different locations during the smelting process, threadbare supplier documentation, the smuggling of 3TG in areas of weak governance – the list goes on.
Although the finer points of the EU’s proposed conflict minerals law remain subject to Member State review, its entry into force is only a matter of time, and responsible businesses must rapidly gear up to ensure compliance with its provisions. Companies that have learnt the lessons from the initial roll-out of the Dodd-Frank reporting process may have a head start; however, the adoption of the right risk management programmes is going to be absolutely critical to meeting the EU’s conflict mineral due diligence obligations.
James Appleyard is a UK-based trade policy consultant at Verisk Maplecroft. He can be reached via email: Follow him on Twitter: @JSAppleyard

Could a new Dutch proposal end the conflict mineral stand off?
Susanne Baker, techUK
24 February 2016
TechUK’s Susanne Baker explores how a new proposal could bring an end to the European stand deadlock over new conflict mineral rules
These were never going to be easy negotiations. The EU Regulation on the responsible sourcing of minerals has been incredibly emotive throughout its hotly debated passage through the European Parliament.
Prompted by concerns that trade in minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is helping to fund armed groups in the region, the Regulation introduces responsibilities on actors in the supply chain to ensure that this is not the case.
It follows similar efforts in the US, section 1502 of the Dodd Frank Act, and implements OECD responsible sourcing guidelines which introduce the need for due diligence in tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold (3TG) supply chains. These minerals have been publicly linked to electronics but they also have important applications in sectors such as automotive, healthcare, aerospace, space and defence.
The regulation has now reached the final trialogue stage, where the Parliament, the EU Council of Ministers and the Commission attempt to reconcile differences of opinion. But the first round of negotiations earlier this month was difficult.
There is agreement on many elements, such as recognition of existing and future supply chain due diligence schemes, such as the Conflict Free Sourcing Initiative, the London Bullion Market Association’s Responsible Gold Programme and the Responsible Jewellery Council, could be recognised as an equivalent measure. Unlike the US regulation the focus will not just be on the DRC and surrounding regions, there is an agreement that the EU rules will have an open geographical scope.
But some seemingly intractable differences of opinion are proving hard to overcome. The talks ended in deadlock.
The heart of the disagreement lies in whether the regulation should require all companies to exercise due diligence or to focus on upstream supply pinch points – from mine to smelter. Another sticking point is whether due diligence should be voluntary or mandatory.
But it is important to recognise that due diligence, whilst providing transparency, does not create the conditions for responsible sourcing. These are regions prone to smuggling, tax avoidance, environmental exploitation, human rights abuse and conflict. Without in-region and upstream controls in place, identifying conflict regions could simply create a de-facto embargo for minerals and metals originating there.
This is not to the benefit of the people whose livelihoods depend on the mines. Many international buyers have responded to the US legislation by going “Congo free”. In an open letter, 70 academics, writers and observers said that the conflict mineral movement had thus far failed to lead to meaningful improvements on the ground. With an estimated eight to 10 million people across the DRC dependent on artisanal mining for their livelihood, “persisting insecurity levels leaves them in abject poverty facing dire living conditions”.
The letter then goes on to highlight the issues on the ground stating that setting up the required systems and procedures to regularly access and audit thousands of artisanal mining sites in isolated and hard to reach locations spread across an area twice the size of France “would be a challenge for any government. In the eastern DRC, where road infrastructure is poor to non-existent and state capacity desperately low, the enormity of the task is hard to overstate”.
So yes, we desperately need to break the link between minerals and conflict but we must attempt to do this by creating the conditions that enable responsible in-region sourcing, supporting livelihoods and driving local development, and by establishing in-country resources that are designed to achieve meaningful and long-standing change.
And this is where a new proposal from the Dutch government comes in. It is currently exploring appetite for a European Public-Private Partnership for Responsible Mineral Sourcing to provide a platform for cooperation between EU governments, companies and civil society to address some of the core issues surrounding conflict minerals and to enable their responsible sourcing.
A multi-stakeholder partnership would be the platform that is needed to foster knowledge, leadership, secure the commitment of downstream sectors, implement effective in-region projects, such as capacity building and traceability schemes, and to collectively define conflict-affected and high risk regions. This could link, complement and strengthen existing schemes such as the PPA for Responsible Minerals Trade, which among other things works on capacity building.
Right now, the most important thing is to ensure companies, all downstream companies that rely on these materials in one way or another, consider supporting the initiative. Getting behind it could be an important step towards not just fulfilling what Regulation comes out, but delivering the spirit of the Regulation.
Susanne Baker is head of programme, environment and compliance at techUK

No more conflict minerals- EU States need to approve a law that stops the suffering of many people
CIDSE press release
11 February 2016
CIDSE and its members call on EU leaders to agree a mandatory, comprehensive supply chain due diligence to put an end to conflict minerals in a new policy briefing, together with a video reportage filmed in a mine in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and a video message by Mgr. Fridolin Ambongo (DRC).
Two weeks after the beginning of the Trialogue on conflict minerals (the negotiations between the European Parliament, the European Commission and the 28 EU Member States that form the EU Council) CIDSE calls on EU Member States to take the issue of conflict minerals seriously, rather than pushing a position that puts profits before the people. The Council is currently opposing a mandatory law and pushing for a voluntary and partial system, which is not sufficient to solve conflict minerals and to ensure that electronic products don’t hide stories of suffering.
A new video (now also available in English) filmed at the Fungamwaka mine in the DRC reveals the working conditions of artisanal miners who extract the minerals that enter many daily life products such as laptops, smartphones and other electronic devices. The Fungamwaka mine is an example of a “clean mine”, where no rebel groups are present to illegally tax the miners, and child labor is banned. In a sector too often dominated by exploitations and human rights violations, this example demonstrates how the sector could be cleaned up under effective regulation. The costs of doing so cannot simply be passed on mine workers who are struggling to make a decent living, but should be covered by the companies sourcing these minerals along the full supply chain.
In a separate video message, Mgr. Fridolin Ambongo from the DRC says: “We wish wholeheartedly that the position of EU Member States will evolve towards a binding regulation, because in my eyes a law which is not binding is not law.” According to Mgr. Ambongo the EU Member States are more sensitive to certain business arguments, and less to the humanitarian dimension and the moral and ethical aspects of mineral exploitation. Mgr. Ambongo points out that the lack of a proper legislation on conflict minerals poses a problem for consumers: “Using a product, without knowing where it came from, with the risk that it might come from a conflict affected area and contain “blood minerals”, can create a problem of conscience for many European citizens.”
In the policy briefing attached (available in English, Italian and French), CIDSE recommends that Member States revisit their positions and:
1. Show leadership on this issue by supporting mandatory due diligence requirements along the entire supply chain.
2. Support a Regulation that aligns with the OECD Due Diligence Guidance on Conflict Minerals, by:
• Ensuring that all due diligence obligations are consistent with the OECD standards
• Engaging companies downstream of metal importers, in particular companies that place products containing covered minerals on the EU market
• Including language that reflects the flexible and progressive nature of due diligence.
Contact details:
Stefan Reinhold, CIDSE Advocacy coordinator on conflict minerals
+32 (0)2 282 40 71, reinhold(at)
Valentina Pavarotti, CIDSE Media and Communications Officer
+32 (0)2 2824073, pavarotti(at)

Notes to the editors:
Background on the conflict minerals regulation:
In the absence of a strong regulatory system, European citizens cannot be sure that the products they buy and use daily didn’t involve human rights violations. To tackle this issue, the European Commission proposed the “conflict minerals” regulation in March 2014. The proposal was disappointing in many ways: it consisted in a self-certification system that companies could voluntarily join, and it only applied to 19 smelters and refiners based in the EU (while not covering all products entering the EU market that contain the targeted minerals). In May 2015, the European Parliament (EP) strengthened the proposal by requiring all European companies manufacturing or importing components and final products containing the targeted minerals to check their supply chains to make sure they don’t fuel conflicts or participate in human rights violations. Even if some gaps still remain, CIDSE welcomed this vote as a great evolution.
A message from Pope Francis:
In a public message sent to leaders of communities affected by mining in July 2015, Pope Francis highlights the shared responsibility of governments, citizens and businesswomen and men to act in order to bring the needed change: “The entire mining sector is decisively called to effect a radical paradigm shift to improve the situation in many countries. To this change a contribution can be made by the governments of the home countries of multinational companies and of those in which they operate, by businesses and investors, by the local authorities who oversee mining operations, by workers and their representatives, by international supply chains with their various intermediaries and those who operate in the markets of these materials, and by the consumers of goods for whose production the minerals are required. All these people are called upon to adopt conduct inspired by the fact that we constitute a single human family, “that everything is interconnected, and that genuine care for our own lives and our relationships with nature is inseparable from fraternity, justice and faithfulness to others”.
CIDSE is an international family of Catholic social justice organizations, working together to promote justice, harness the power of global solidarity and create transformational change to end poverty and inequalities. We do this by challenging systemic injustice and inequity as well as destruction of nature. We believe in a world where every human being has the right to live in dignity
CIDSE members: Broederlijk Delen (Belgium), CAFOD (England and Wales), CCFD – Terre Solidaire (France), Center of Concern (USA), Cordaid (the Netherlands), Development & Peace (Canada), Entraide et Fraternité (Belgium), eRko (Slovakia), Fastenopfer (Switzerland), FEC (Portugal), FOCSIV (Italy), Fondation Bridderlech Deelen (Luxembourg), KOO (Austria), Manos Unidas (Spain), MISEREOR (Germany), Progressio (United Kingdom), SCIAF (Scotland), Trócaire (Ireland)
CIDSE has coordinated a statement signed by nearly 150 Church leaders from 38 countries on 5 continents, asking for strong regulation to achieve the objective of breaking the link between natural resources and conflicts.
Other CIDSE’s resources on conflict minerals are available.