Motorola and AVX Corporation Expand Conflict Free Mineral Project
Blog Entry by Gina-Marie Cheeseman in Corporate Social Responsibility
Friday, March 28, 2014 - 6:00pm
(3BL/JustMeans) - Certain minerals are in the electronic devices we use everyday: cell phones, laptops, tablets, and iPods. Those minerals, which include tantalum, are often called “conflict minerals” because many of them come from regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo prone to armed conflict. One of those regions is the Province of North Kivu, an area that has been the epicenter of the military conflicts in the DRC since the early 1990s. Over two dozen paramilitary groups emerged from North Kivu over the past two decades. The conflicts going in the DRC are considered to be the deadliest since World War II.
The trading of conflict minerals earns armed groups hundreds of millions of dollars every year. The money from the sale of conflict minerals allows the paramilitaries to buy large amounts of weapons and continue to brutalize the local population. The conflict minerals are smuggled out of the DRC and shipped to smelters around the world through neighboring countries. Government troops and paramilitary groups fight to control the mines. Civilians are raped and murdered as a result of these conflicts. Paramilitary troops even use child soldiers. Over 5.4 million people in the DRC have died as a result of the conflicts and over two million have been displaced.
Motorola Solutions, Inc. and AVX Corporation recently announced the expansion of Solutions for Hope to the Province of North Kivu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Solutions for Hope allows tantalum from the DRC to be used in both companies products and still be “conflict free.” Tantalum is used to make certain capacitors in electronic products and is derived from the mineral coltan, mineral the DRC has in abundance.
Solutions for Hope launched in July 2011 in the DRC’s Katanga province and created the region’s first “closed-pipe” supply model which uses a defined set of suppliers covering the mines, smelters, capacitor manufacturers and end users. The closed-pipe model is better than a de facto country-wide embargo that would affect the entire country’s economy. The project is open to all companies, and some big name companies participate, including Blackberry, HP, Intel, and Nokia. Before Solutions of Hope, no recognized system to verify that minerals from the DRC are conflict free existed. Mining is very important to the DRC’s economy. Tens of thousands of people depend on artisanal mining and many operate in regions where conflict is not present.
An independent auditor validated Solutions for Hope. A multi-stakeholder group, which included representatives from AVX, Motorola Solutions, Global Advanced Metals, the Enough Project, the Public Private Alliance for Responsible Minerals Trade and the USAID, visited the MHI mine site in North Kivu and provincial authorities in November 2013.
Solutions for Hope’s closed-pipe supply model might help numerous company’s comply with congressional legislation. Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Act requires publicly traded companies in the U.S. to disclose their use of conflict minerals, including tantalum, in their products. Companies must also describe the process they are using to ensure their purchase of the minerals does not fund the paramilitary groups in the DRC.
Photo: ENOUGH Project