Conflict minerals are minerals extracted in conflict zones, which include
- tin (Sn),
- tantalum (Ta),
- tungsten (W) and
- gold (Au).
These minerals are found in large volumes in the African Great Lakes Region and especially in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Although they hold great potential for development, natural mineral resources can, in conflict-affected or high-risk areas, be a cause of dispute where their revenues fuel the outbreak or continuation of violent conflict.
Minerals extracted in conflict zones are used in the manufacture of, for example, consumer electronics. The European Union wants to prevent the financing of armed groups in conflict zones through the sale of conflict minerals. Its aim is to promote peace, progress and stability in these areas. This is why importing tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold from conflict zones into the EU requires new kinds of procedures from businesses as of the beginning of 2021.
Businesses wishing to import tin, tantalum, tungsten or gold from conflict zones into the EU above certain volume thresholds must
- establish a strong management system. This includes the identification of the factual circumstances involved in the extraction, transport, handling, trading, processing, smelting, refining, and alloying, manufacturing, or selling of products that contain minerals from conflict-affected and high-risk areas. Companies must adopt and clearly communicate to suppliers and the public their policy for the minerals.
- identify and assess any actual and potential risks in the supply chain.
- design and implement a strategy to respond to the identified risks. This may result, for example, in deciding to disengage with a supplier if the supplier is committing serious human rights abuses, such as child labour and torture.
- carry out or obtain an independent third-party audit of the company’s activities, processes and systems related to minerals imported from conflict zones.
- publicly report on their supply chain due diligence policies and practices. The aim is to generate public confidence in the measures companies are taking.
The volume thresholds that trigger the application of the requirements are listed in Annex I to Regulation (EU) 2017/821.
The requirements apply to all businesses that import minerals
- from areas in a state of armed conflict.
- from areas that are fragile post-conflict.
- from failed states. These include areas witnessing weak or non-existent governance and security, and widespread and systematic violations of international law, including human rights abuses.
Tukes is the competent authority to carry out checks to ensure compliance with the requirements relating to the import of conflict minerals in Finland. Checks will begin in 2022.
More information about the supervision of the import of conflict minerals is available from Heikki Puhakka and Terho Liikamaa at Tukes’s Mining Authority Unit. The e-mail address format is [email protected]