Minerals from conflict zones: do we have the right to know?
In his GreenBiz.com column this month, NI’s Michael Kramer takes aim at a recent court decision that tossed out a provision in the Dodd-Frank financial reform rules that required mineral companies examine whether the tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold in their products may be contributing to conflict in the Congo and surrounding countries. This information is then available to manufacturers who use such raw materials in their products. The challenge by the National Association of Manufacturers is especially counterproductive, since the rules have been working well for the past several years. As Michael notes:
More than 1,300 companies filed proper disclosure with the SEC last year, proving that in reporting their supply chain due diligence activities and findings, they are able to make responsible mineral sourcing purchases, thereby removing an important business risk that affects labor conditions in those countries and shareholders around the world that invest in these companies. In addition, over 125 mines in the DRC have been certified as “conflict-free,” meaning they are not under militia control, and 200 more will be certified this year.
That American business interests would file a lawsuit to undermine the obvious success of these international initiatives reflects their ongoing solipsism, particularly that of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in opposing any regulatory oversight that assures environmental, social and governance responsibility.
Clearly, they are on the wrong side of history. Businesses can and surely do operate successfully and profitably in this sector without contributing to brutal and oppressive regimes operating in politically volatile countries where abuse is commonplace.