A view of a traditional gold mine, near the eastern Congolese town of Kamituga, a mining town.
The following is a guest host by Dunstan Allison Hope, managing director of BSR’s Information, Communications, and Technology Practice. He is also co-author of “Big Business, Big Responsibilities.” The opinions expressed are his own.
Buried in the 2,300-page U.S. financial reform bill that President Obama signed on July 21 is a little-noticed provision taking aim at a very different type of market: the international trade in so-called “conflict minerals” from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
These minerals — tantalum, tin, and tungsten — are found in everyday products from cell phones and computers to aircraft engines and cutting tools, and this first-of-its-kind legislation will require publicly traded companies using the minerals to file an annual report with the Securities and Exchange Commission to declare if they, or companies in their supply chain, are sourcing from the DRC or an adjoining country.
With so many industries and high-profile brands using these minerals, it’s not surprising that the U.S. government is targeting global business and their supply chains to address the challenge of conflict minerals. No one likes the idea of using products containing conflict minerals — especially if you remember similar issues with “blood diamonds.” Given the choice, we would buy elsewhere.