Industry giants Apple and Intel have announced that they have stopped purchasing conflict minerals from war-torn Congo, a decisive move that some in the region have called “an embargo.”
Mobile technologies, like Apple’s iPad and Intel’s microprocessors, make it possible to enjoy convenience, information and connections that were only a dream a few decades ago.
Although these technologies are usually shiny and clean on the outside, few people realize the dirty and dangerous practices that are required to create them.
Rare earth elements like copper, tungsten, neodymium, dysprosium, coltan, and terbium are essential to the sophistication and battery life of advanced electronics. However, deposits of these elements are concentrated in the eastern regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and are at the root of many of the violent political conflicts there.
“Much of the fighting [in this area] has been funded by the extraction of these conflict minerals, and children have found themselves forced into the dirty and dangerous work required to ready these elements for export,” reports Leon Kaye of Triple Pundit.
Seeing kids as young as five were spending up to 72 hours hunched over in narrow mine tunnels, was what prompted film director Frank Piasecki Poulsen to create documentary and awareness campaign called “Blood in the Mobile” to address the extreme disregard for human and animal rights that the large mobile phone providers displayed but purchasing these minerals.
Demands from consumers and organizations prompted a coalition of manufacturers, government agencies, and non-profits to launch the Conflict-Free Smelter (CFS) program last December. The CSF identifies smelters through independent third party auditors who can assess that raw materials did not originate from sources that profit off off the conflict in the Congo.
Many have congratulated Apple and Intel on their decision to participate in the program, but just a little digging reveals that alternatives were limited. As Triple Pundit reports:
When the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act passed through the American Congress and won President Obama’s signature last July, one section buried in the bill (revealing the brilliance or madness of how America churns legislation) issued regulations to prevent the purchase of conflict minerals, effective this month. The enforcement of this prevision has been left to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which in 2012 will require companies to audit their mineral supplies to verify that any purchases were not made from vendors that have any affiliation with the conflict in eastern Congo.
While the U.S. seems to be on the right track concerning conflict minerals, other countries have yet to take a stand. Encourage Canada to do the samy by signing the petition below:
Thanks to Care2 members, the US State Department is considering implementing regulations on conflict minerals. The Care2 petition collected over 15,000 signatures. Thanks for your support!