Cutting DRC From Your Company's Supply Chain: Not Smart

MetalMiner welcomes a guest viewpoint from Brad Brooks-Rubin, Of Counsel at Holland & Hart LLP, on conflict minerals compliance.

Leaving the DRC now to make conflict minerals compliance cheaper and simpler will only double your company’s trouble, as I began laying out here.

At present, a number of positive and potentially game-changing efforts are underway on the ground to develop conflict-free supply chains. It is true that the conflict in the DRC will not be eradicated solely through the efforts of these activities, but most informed observers have recognized that achieving the goal of the conflict minerals law depends in large part on their success.

That is, because extraction of these minerals is largely undertaken by artisanal miners, the long-term and sustainable solutions to the problem rest on the implementation of approaches and interventions that prioritize economically viable sustainable development, which reduce the vulnerability of the miners, their communities, and the mining sector as a whole to exploitation and conflict.

And that narrative is taking hold with advocates like the Enough Project and Global Witness, which helped make section 1502 into law and continue to monitor its implementation. Look at the “corporate rankings” developed by Enough, for example, and you will see most of the questions and criteria emphasize the need for companies to keep their supply chains engaged in the region. The first “main gap” identified is “Ensuring that ‘conflict free’ is not ‘Congo Free.’” Global Witness recently made similar recommendations.

These are the same advocates whose analysis will likely form an important element of the public response to the 1502 reports submitted by companies. And the more they see companies whose supply chains were simply redirected away from the DRC and Africa as a whole, the more they will likely still point to those companies as not living up to the spirit of the law, as abandoning Congo, and as worthy of criticism from the media and from consumers.

So, if you go, as the Clash song goes, that trouble will be double.

In Part Three, find out how your company can manage the trouble and still keep it from doubling. If you’re involved in the tin, tungsten, tantalum or gold supply chain in any way, tell us what you think – leave a comment below! 

Don’t miss MetalMiner’s Conflict Minerals Resources – white papers, toolkits and much more.

Editors’ note: The viewpoints, perspectives and/or opinions of guest contributors do not necessarily reflect those of MetalMiner, its sponsors, clients or partners. Contact the author directly here.

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