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Responsible Sourcing of Minerals

Posted on March 12, 2014 in Articles

We have known civilians’ human rights are abused in the central part of Africa.   Unfortunately, armed conflict continued in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).  The war crimes happening in the eastern of DRC have caused untold restlessness in other countries.  
The fighting is directly financed by the sales’ profit of DRC’s natural resources, such as tantalum, tin, tungsten and gold.  The mined minerals are extracted and passed through a variety of intermediaries before being indirectly or unknowingly purchased by multinational electronics companies.  Hence, one way of defeating such crimes is to strengthen the corporate social responsibility policies and implement in the supply chain.
Taking in responsibilities on this, many organisations in the electronics supply chain have aggressively take proactive measures by embracing EICC Code of Conduct.  Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC) is a coalition of the world’s leading electronics companies working together to improve efficiency and social, ethical, and environmental responsibility in the global supply chain.  The Code of Conduct provides guidance in five critical areas of CSR performance:
  • Environment
  • Ethics
  • Health and Safety
  • Labor
  • Management System
Zooming into the indirect finance of arms to DRC and the countries surrounding it, one of EICC Code of Conduct is D7: Responsible Sourcing of Minerals addresses the prevention.  Organisations that adopt the Code shall have a policy to reasonably assure that the tantalum, tin, tungsten and gold in the products they manufacture does not directly or indirectly finance or benefit armed groups that are perpetrators of serious human rights abuses in the Democratic Republic of the Congo or an adjoining country. The organisations shall exercise due diligence on the source and chain of custody of these minerals and make their due diligence measures available to customers upon customer request.
Further strengthening the Code throughout the supply chain, another of EICC Code of Conduct, E12, is the Supplier Responsibility: Process to communicate Code requirements to suppliers and to monitor supplier compliance to the Code.
Excerpt from the Code, participating organisations need to have documented procedure on implementation of EICC code for suppliers and formal communication with its suppliers on the code and its requirements or inserted the requirements of the code and its provisions into the contract it has with suppliers. This includes: 
  • Supplier program (identification of major suppliers, definition of what is major) 
  • Communications program to major suppliers (meetings, email, ...) 
  • Enforcement language: contract, purchase order, ... 
Through validated audit process, third or second party auditors will audit the organisation’s implementation to determine the effectiveness in ensuring the Code is being conformed and maintained.

This will be the continual improvement programs that include responsible sourcing of minerals for the organisations to achieve their corporate social responsibility policies.
More info:
Human Rights Watch
Amnesty International
Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition

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