Nintendo to reduce conflict mineral use

on Friday, September 14, 2012

Nintendo to reduce conflict mineral useAfter a recent study by the Enough Project ranked Nintendo last among electronics companies ending their use of conflict minerals, the company is publicly taking steps to reduce the minerals in its new electronic devices.

Conflict minerals include tin, tungsten, gold and tantalum. These materials are mined in dangerous regions such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and armed groups often profit from forcing workers to mine the goods for little pay. CNN reported that the International Rescue Committee estimates 5.4 million people have died as a result of the civil unrest since 1998.

Many electronics rely on these minerals to function correctly. Because most electronics companies are not directly involved in the mining process, they obtain the products from other sources. The Enough Project requests that corporations audit their procurement processes to determine if conflict minerals are being used in their products. Electronics companies that undertake stringent responsible mineral sourcing practices, such as Intel and HP, ranked highly on the Enough Project's report.

As consumers become more aware and concerned about the products used to make their goods, they are putting pressure on companies to commit to responsible sourcing. The group Walk Free planned to protest at Nintendo's recent event announcing the launch of the Wii U. They were unable to hold a protest, but did form an online petition protesting what they saw as Nintendo's weak stance on conflict minerals.

Nintendo has stated that it is committed to social responsibility and revealed that it has an agreement with its partners that aims to eliminate the conflict minerals from its products. Nintendo said that its suppliers will not use conflict minerals in the company's 3DS, Wii or Wii U in order to stop the human rights abuses in the Congo. Although Nintendo outsources the manufacturing and assembly of  its products, its production partners have agreed to implement strategic sourcing practices in order to avoid conflict minerals.

It is unclear whether Nintendo will perform any sort of procurement auditing to ensure conflict minerals do not enter its supply chain.

The company's latest corporate social responsibility report details the steps Nintendo takes to ensure social responsibility across all platforms. These steps include reducing water use, recycling materials, producing energy-efficient products and working to eliminate certain chemicals from their goods.

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