Conflict Minerals Act

Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Act:

On July 21, 2010, President Barack Obama signed into law the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, a bill radically reforming the regularity structure
of the United States financial system.  Buried within the 2300 pages of the Dodd-Frank Act was the easily overlooked Section 1502 “Conflict Minerals” provision—something of major concern for anyone of us who owns a computer, uses a smartphone, or plays a videogame.[1]

The Minerals

At issue are four minerals mined in the war-torn eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC): cassiterite, or tin ore; columbite-tantalite or coltan, from which tantalum is extracted; wolframite, a source of tungsten; and gold. The DRC houses significant portions of the world’s mineral wealth, and these four minerals, which are in found in nearly all of the electronics we use and that are essential to life in the digital age, have fueled a 15-year old war marked for  its longevity, brutality and sexual violence.[2]

Congo MilitiaCongress summarized their concern with Congolese minerals:

“the exploitation and trade of conflict minerals originating in the DRC is helping to finance conflict characterized by extreme levels of violence in the eastern DRC, particularly sexual- and gender-based violence, and contributing to an emergency humanitarian situation therein.[3] 

Originally proposed with bi-partison support as the Conflict Minerals Act of 2009 by U.S. Senators Sam Brownback (R-KS), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Russ Feingold (D-WI), the inclusion of the ‘Conflict Minerals’ provision in the Dodd-Frank Act was seen as a clear victory for conflict minerals advocates, and called unrealistic and burdensome by business groups including the Consumer Electronics Association and National Retail Federation.

The Details

The passage of the Conflict Minerals provision of the Dodd-Frank Act requires that U.S. companies declare the origin of the minerals found within their laptops, cell phones and other electronic devices and indicate what steps they are taking to eliminate the use of “conflict minerals” mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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