Supply chains slowly eliminating conflict mineralsRecent findings by the Enough Project revealed that large companies are beginning to rid their supply chains of conflict minerals such as tin, tungsten and gold. 

These conflict minerals are essential components in many electronic devices such as computers and cellphones. They are naturally found in regions like Central Africa, especially the Democratic Republic of Congo. These minerals are valuable to businesses and bring in large profits, meaning there is competition over who controls and sells them. This competition has resulted in violence and human rights crises as armed groups attempt to control mining areas, but some business are beginning to make efforts to find new sources for these materials.

Large consumer electronics companies like Apple, Intel and Hewlett-Packard are now carefully monitoring where their minerals come from. A section of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act addressed this sourcing issue and requires companies that get their minerals from the DRC to inform the Securities and Exchange Commission on the actions they take to ensure conflict minerals are not being used.

Forbes reported that several companies and investors encouraged the SEC to form strong rules that will provide businesses with a clear idea of what to do and make sure the law is effective.

Aside from electronics, other industries also contribute to the sourcing of conflict minerals. The automotive, jewelry, mining and industrial machine industries tend to use these controversial natural minerals, the Enough Project reported. The Project did mention that these industries are beginning to take action and halt the purchase of such supplies because of the Dodd-Frank legislation.

In addition to being required by law to examine their sourcing, increased consumer activism has also led companies to employ strategic sourcing techniques to avoid these conflict minerals, the Enough Project stated on its survey results.

The Enough Project began ranking companies on their attempts to rid supply chains of conflict minerals in 2010. Most companies listed have improved their scores over time; though, some have not taken steps to improve their sourcing as much as others.

The Enough Project says its goal is not to stop mineral sourcing from the DRC completely, but rather to ensure the minerals being purchased from the area do not support armed rebel groups that contribute to human rights abuses.

"A handful of companies are helping Congo develop a clean trade, but some companies are taking a hands-off approach to instruct their suppliers to not buy minerals from Congo and the region," the group said. "This approach helps cut off armed groups but leaves mining communities in Congo behind."
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