The United States has played a leading role in a number of international efforts to address the “conflict minerals” trade.
In many developing nations, the extraction of minerals is crucial to the local economy. If used for the common good, these resources can lift countries out of poverty by providing jobs and accelerating economic growth to provide quality education, health care and other needed government services.
Or they can be a source of untold misery.
In areas where governance is weak or absent, armed groups may fill the vacuum and commandeer valuable resources for themselves. In such places, these groups may force villagers to mine minerals, and then use the profits from their sale to fund insurgencies against legitimate governments or terrorize local communities.
The United States has played a leading role in a number of international efforts to address the “conflict minerals” trade. Under one initiative known as Dodd-Frank Section 1502, for the part of the law that created it, U.S. companies are required to account for the use of gold, tin, tungsten and tantalum, and their ores in their products and then investigate their supply chain to determine if these minerals were used to fuel the conflict in the Great Lakes Region of Central Africa. This action was taken to break the link between armed groups and minerals and to create legitimate channels for these resources.
Since this and other initiatives were begun, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have made progress in developing legitimate supply chains for their conflict minerals. Some armed groups continue to exploit the region’s resources, however, posing a threat to regional stability and undermining international efforts to end the decades-long strife there. Toward that end, U.S. financial regulators have issued an order affirming that companies must report on whether their products contain conflict minerals from the DRC or neighboring nations. The deadline for compliance is June 2 of this year.
Developing a legitimate mining industry is critical for building an economic base for a sustainable peace in the eastern DRC and Great Lakes Region. Due diligence by U.S. companies plays an important role in combating the illicit exploitation of these minerals by promoting a responsible minerals trade worldwide.