We’ve touched on conflict materials in this space before, typically in reference to cobalt. A majority of the world’s cobalt is mined in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where conditions at so-called artisanal mines (i.e., small-scale mines) are sub-standard, according to reports by a variety of NGOs.
Among the concerns at these mines includes a lack of regulation, which in some cases leads to extremely unsafe working conditions and the use of child labor.
Amnesty International last year released a report in which a number of big-name companies came in for criticism with respect to their cobalt supply chains.
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Yesterday, we cited a recent report by the Enough Project on cobalt and murky supply chain ethics.
Meanwhile, over at MetalMiner’s sister site, SpendMatters, you can find a similar report on the supply-chain issues related to gold — that is, conflict gold passing through some big-name companies en route to the U.S. market.
The SpendMatters piece cites an October study by The Sentry, which is an initiative of the Enough Project and Not On Our Watch Now (NOOW).
Documents reviewed and interviews carried out by The Sentry, a team of policy experts and financial auditors co-founded by George Clooney, raise concerns that the corporate network controlled by Belgian tycoon Alain Goetz, director at the Belgian gold refinery Tony Goetz N.V., has refined illegally smuggled conflict gold from eastern DRC at the African Gold Refinery (AGR) in Uganda and subsequently exported it through a series of companies to the U.S. and Europe. The study lists companies like Amazon, General Electric and Sony as possibly being ones that conflict gold may have been sold to.