Democratic Republic of Congo – Despite the joint report released by human rights groups Amnesty International and Global Witness in April which claimed that 79% of companies required to report on their use of minerals mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) were failing to do so, the mineral supply chain from the DRC is unlikely to be affected.
The requirements under section 1502 of the 2010 Dodd-Frank legislation for companies to report their use of minerals mined in the DRC to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) aims to break the links between the minerals trade in the DRC and neighbouring countries.
The act requires SEC-listed companies to examine their supply chains to determine if they manufacture or contract other companies to manufacture products that contain conflict minerals and also requires SEC-listed companies to adhere to the OECD’s due diligence guidance.
Consistent with its objective, Dodd-Frank 1502 along with related reforms has led to significant improvements in the transparency of corporate supply chains and to a major reduction in the number of conflict mines in eastern DRC. More than 60% of the world’s smelters of tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold have now passed conflict-free audits.
Before Dodd-Frank 1502, there was no certification mechanism for distinguishing conflict mines (i.e. mines controlled by armed groups or the Congolese army) from conflict-free mines.
The European Commission has also proposed a self-certification scheme to better regulate mineral imports from conflict-affected and high-risk areas.
While the proposal would not carry strict legal liability, EU officials say the goal is to promote transparency through threat of public scrutiny. To further increase accountability, the draft legislation also suggests publishing an annual list of EU and global “responsible smelters and refiners.”