Conflict Minerals gun flip 3

Responsible Minerals

The global minerals trade has funded abuses and armed conflict for decades. Minerals that have bankrolled social and environmental harms still end up in our mobile phones, laptops and cars. Businesses must act responsibly by checking their supply chains. Read more

The global trade in a variety of minerals has funded some of the world’s most brutal conflicts for decades. These minerals are often referred to as 'conflict minerals'. Today, resources from conflict or high-risk areas, such as parts of Afghanistan, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Zimbabwe, provide lucrative funding to armed groups, and are linked to human rights abuses and environmental degradation. 

These resources can enter global supply chains, ending up in our mobile phones, laptops, jewellery and other products. They are traded on commodities exchanges worldwide, swapped by banks, and are a favourite vehicle for investors worldwide. It is very difficult for consumers and investors to know if their preferred products or investments fund violence overseas.

TEMPLO phone minerals

For more than 20 years, Global Witness has run pioneering campaigns and in-depth investigations to break the links between minerals and conflict, corruption and human rights abuses. Our work on the minerals tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold in particular, has shone a spotlight on the eastern DRC, where these minerals have in part funded conflict and instability for almost two decades. Civilians have borne the brunt of the violence while their countries’ minerals have funded abuses and corruption rather than being well-managed, and their revenues invested by the state.

We know this is a global problem. Profits from the diamond and gold trade have helped fund conflict in the Central African Republic, which has left hundreds of thousands of people displaced from their homes.

Global Witness is calling on governments and businesses to act responsibly. Mineral wealth should be used for the betterment of people’s lives in resource rich areas. But this is only possible if companies take action. All companies must regularly and proactively conduct checks on supply chains to ensure that the minerals they use, trade, and invest in have not contributed to conflict or human rights abuses. Then they must report on their findings. This process, known as supply chain due diligence, is essential to ensuring the products we buy are made with materials sourced responsibly and fairly. Governments should support implementation of responsible sourcing practices, enforce relevant laws and take action to hold companies accountable for their purchases.

We have already seen significant steps towards change. The US passed landmark legislation in 2010, known as the Dodd Frank Act Section 1502, requiring US-listed companies to carry out due diligence on minerals sourced from the DRC, and its nine neighbouring countries.

Several African countries, including DRC and Rwanda, have legislation in place requiring companies to undertake supply chain checks. China has recently developed its own responsible mineral sourcing guidelines

In June 2017, the EU adopted a regulation seeking to break the links between minerals and human rights abuses through supply chain due diligence after several years of civil society campaigning and EU negotiations. This regulation joins an increasing number of new laws, focusing on other supply chain risks - like forced or child labour and environmental impacts - which hold companies accountable for what happens along their supply chains.