Conflict Minerals Legislation Moving Forward in the EU

Last week, I attended the ICGLR-OECD-UN Group of Experts Forum on Responsible Mineral Supply Chains. The meeting, which was held two weeks in advance of the European Union (EU) Parliament Plenary vote on conflict minerals legislation, provided a glimpse into the future of conflict minerals legislative and market requirements for manufacturers.

High-level updates from the UN Group of Experts on the DRC & International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) Secretariat made clear that while some progress has been made in reducing the link between tin, tantalum and tungsten with violence, gold smuggling continues to provide significant funding to armed violence. Additionally, those perpetrating violence have turned to the exploitation of other natural resources including palm oil and illegal wildlife trade.

Additional presentations at the OECD meeting on Columbia, the Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), and China clearly indicate that the OECD and the EU will continue to move forward with a global focus.

Despite the mixed record of conflict minerals action, the EU is plunging ahead with regulations. Ms. Signe Ratso, EC Directorate General of Trade, defended the Commission proposal for voluntary action. But, several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) spoke of the need for mandatory controls for the entire supply chain. Judith Sargenti, a member of the European Parliament, spoke of her intention to offer amendments during the European Parliament (EP) plenary debate and vote on May 18 and 19, 2015.

On May 8, IPC joined other leading European trade associations in issuing a joint statement encouraging the Members of the European Parliament to adopt the report, as voted on by the International Trade Committee of the European Parliament (INTA) on April 14, without additional modification. The INTA report would make mandatory the proposed voluntary system of certification for EU smelters and refiners and would exempt recycled metals. By a close vote, the committee rejected amendments seeking to extend this mandatory scheme to those who purchase minerals for the production of goods such as mobile phones and other electronics. Although IPC is concerned about endorsing any mandatory measures, we feel that the legislation adopted by the committee report is a reasonable compromise.

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