Illusions of 'Conflict-Free' Minerals

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stochastic excursion
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Re: Will not using conflict materials help?
stochastic excursion   8/20/2012 6:06:05 PM
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Arab nations are still rigidly stratified compared to the West in terms of society, but living in a place with valuable resources has benefited the common people there. Speaking as a distant observer and I'm sure making easy generalizations, the same prosperity seems to be denied to the Congolese.  I'm pretty sure this is an important motivation for the violence in the Congo.

However I see this as an opportunity for sourcing outfits to make a difference where Western foreign relations officials and NGO's have been so ineffective.Unfortunately this means diverting focus from what can be gotten from the region, to a longer-term objective of allowing economic and infrastructural improvements to be implemented using the region's natural wealth.  This raises the prospect of limiting production, but surely will do more good than the haphazard stop-gap policies now in place.


TaimoorZ
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Re: opportunity for cynicism
TaimoorZ   8/20/2012 1:30:27 PM
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@stochastic: Even if Intel is not the leading user of tantalum components, it's still encouraging to see that they are doing something about it to address the issue. It may be a marketing stunt but at least they're making an effort to address an important social cause. It would encourage other companies to also address the issue.

R.J.Matthews
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Re: Will not using conflict materials help?
R.J.Matthews   8/20/2012 1:12:19 PM
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Taimoorz the Drc is a mineral treasure house and should be to mining what Saudi Arabia is to oil production. If the trade is cleaned up there would be a lot more mining production in the country and more wealth produced.
 
 
 
The Drc should be a rich country with its natural resources ,fertile land and possible sources of hydro power and now with oil being discovered as well.
 
 
 

The hold up in bringing the rules in is creating uncertainty which is hurting investment.


TaimoorZ
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Will not using conflict materials help?
TaimoorZ   8/20/2012 12:56:04 PM
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I think what people need to realize is the fact that despite how deep the conflict may be with regards to these materials and how badly the people of countries like Congo might be suffering because of these materials, the mining of these materials is still the sole source of bread and butter for these people. Already countries like Congo are in deep state of poverty and these minerals contribute a lot to their economy. If companies decide to cut on the usage of these minerals, they may end up hurting these people more.

R.J.Matthews
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Re: Constructive criticism?
R.J.Matthews   8/20/2012 12:45:28 PM
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Agree Bolaji we are on the same side in thinking a lot more needs to be done but think you are under estimating the issue of conflict mineral as it makes many of the other issues worse and is the biggest funder of conflict in the Drc. Other sources simply do not bring the same amount of cash.

The current pressure has lead to armed groups only being able to only generate 35 percent of what they made from tin tantalum and tungsten compared to two years ago. Also has been a factor in a major reduction in the threat from the FDLR rebel group which has drastically shrunk in numbers and influence. 
Agree also other metals need looking at as well a prime example being gold as it has rocketed in price and is now a much bigger factor so you need jewellery companies getting onboard which Dodd frank should help with.


The UN could do a much better job in the Drc and of course but in Libya and Egypt it was people power that changed things. On past wars in the Drc no coincidence that fighting keeps breaking out in the most mineral rich region leading to multiple countries getting involved and helping themselves to mineral riches along the way. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/kivu_conflict

We could suggest Apple raise an army but think they are already taking over the world anyway!

Barbara gree that the rules were a bit sneaked through but as could hardly say they are badly executed as the rules have not even really been executed yet after being passed in july 2010!

Barbara Jorgensen
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Barbara Jorgensen   8/20/2012 9:51:16 AM
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Bolaji--well said, as always. As much as I agree with the intent of Dodd-Frank, it was clearly written and endorsed by people who likely have never been to Africa. (I haven't either, but that doesn't stop me from opining on the matter...) The fact that this particular issue was attached at the last minute to another bill should speak volumes about the US political system. Another well intended, badly executed directive.

Bolaji Ojo
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Re: Constructive criticism?
Bolaji Ojo   8/20/2012 9:38:04 AM
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R.J. I agree something is being done but what is being done isn't by any means enough to resolve this crisis. So, if conflict minerals stop being taken out of the Congo will the war and the attrocities end?

The warlords are called "warlords" and they are despicable people. They've earned these descriptions. But they emerged out of bigger political problems in the region. They used the gains from the mines to fund their wars. Much as in Angola, another country where Africa had a multi-decade war, the wars and barbaric acts in the Congo won't end until a political solution to the conflict is effected.

If the warlords don't use conflict minerals, they will use other resources. In fact, they are using other resources, including lumber from the rain forest, wild animals and other not so popular minerals.

I also agree the electronics companies should be involved. But manufacturers were handed a hot potato and they went for mittens. It will stop them getting hand burns but what about the cauldron?

It is band aid solution and both the lawmakers as well as the targeted companies know this. Plus, the onus of proving the supply chain hadn't been tainted was put on these companies. Are they really in the best position to do this? They are doing what they can and that's admirable. It will result in some changes but the core of the problem will remain and as long as these companies get a sticker on their products that proclaim the components were manufactured with "conflict-free" raw materials, executives can sleep easy.

You cited what the United Nations is doing but fewer attrocities were committed in Libya and Egypt before the dictatorial regimes in those two countries were bundled out. Yes, local efforts were critical to this but so was the support of the international community, which decided to act promptly. How long has the wars in the Congo been raging?

Since the electronics industry seems to have a lot of money (Apple alone has enough to finance several wars) we might as well ask them to raise an army, occupy the mines and ensure payments are made directly to workers and the country!

R.J., We are on different sides of the same argument but I believe we share the same convictions and I respect your pointing out the effects of the actions being taken. My position is that something more concrete need to be done right now. Passing the job on to electronics makers may make us all feel good something is being done but it's far from being one-fifth enough for those on the ground. Time is what they haven't got in places like this yet time is the commodity we want them to trade.

R.J.Matthews
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Re: Constructive criticism?
R.J.Matthews   8/20/2012 6:46:15 AM
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Bolaji
 
 
 
The tittering you hear is coming from a corner office somewhere in silicon valley, tokyo, shanghai,or seoul tittering?
 
 
 
What has resulted is the farce of the enough project what farce?
 
 
 

Life hasn't really improved, though, for the folks the law was meant to protect. It might,in fact,be worse.?

 
 
 
You won't see that mentioned in the dodd-frank reportor any other attempts to find a resolution to the problem of conflict minerals?
 
 
 
That is simply not accurate Bolaji could trackdown and give you plenty of links to articles going into the other problems in the Drc and why they are contributing to the conflicts there from organisations fighting the conflict mineral issue and others.
 
 
 
That does not change the fact that the conflict mineral issue is a major cause of conflict and a major source of funding for it. The recent m23 rebellion shows this very clearly its leader is a conflict mineral kingpin bosco"terminator"ntaganda and one of the reasons the troops are rebelling is that they did not want to be moved out of the region where they were leeching off the mineral trade.
 
 
 
The rebellion would have already collapsed if it was not for the support of Rwanda who want to protect their economic interests in the kivu ie the illicit mineral trade.
 
 
 
Show me the serious efforts being made to solve that problem if we are so concerned about the people of the congo?
 
 
 
http://www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/missions/monusco/facts.shtml
 
 
 
Massive efforts are being made but a lot more could be done.
 
 
 
Congress punted well they are politicians if millions had died indirectly and directly in the USA and not the Drc the problem would have already been sorted. Is that a reason to fight the efforts that are being made though?
 
 
 
No one expects everything to be cleaned up perfectly overnight, but massive improvements can be made nothing farcical about that.
 
 
 
It is not enough to just depend on the legal system in the drc which is why Dodd Frank is needed though efforts are being made in the Drc as well.
 
 
 
Electronic manufacturers are being asked to do a lot because they are in a position to do so through the supply chain, hence the relevance of your article in the first place.
 
 
 
When you are talking about avoiding the mistakes of the past that have lead directly and directly to the death of millions what is enough?
 
 
 


Bolaji Ojo
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Re: Constructive criticism?
Bolaji Ojo   8/20/2012 5:01:44 AM
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R.J., I didn't take lightly the issue of "conflict minerals" because I know lives are on the line in the Democratic Republic of Congo. I believe you missed my point. Let me try and restate it and attempt to draw you into the more important discussion here.

First, these minerals were dubbed "conflict minerals" because there is a conflict -- better known as "war" -- going on in the Congo and some of the surrounding countries. The minerals were not the reason for the "conflict." They are being used to fund the "conflict," hence the name they've been given. At the heart of this "conflict" is a political problem. You won't see that mentioned in the Dodd-Frank report or any other attempts to find a resolution to the problem of conflict minerals.

The minerals have gotten caught up in Congo's political problem. There are no "conflicts" in the minerals themselves. Congress knew this. The international community is keenly aware of this and knows the wars in the Congo have been going on for decades. Solve that problem and the "conflict" in conflict minerals disappear. Show me the serious efforts being made to solve that problem if we are so concerned about the people of the Congo. Or is Congress more concerned about image?

Congress punted. The international community punted. They sent the ball to the high-tech community, the ones that are least well positioned and have the least authority to solve the problem. We asked electronics manufacturers who lack an army or any other forms of political authority to solve a political problem because we don't have the stomach for it.

Let's be blunt. Yes, some of the actions being taken by high tech manufacturers will cleanse some of the "conflict minerals" but believe me if you track the paths taken by the "clean" minerals, you'll see traces of blood. This is the way it will continue to be until the political problems that turned them into "conflict minerals" are resolved.

Secondly, the legal system that would support the eradication of "conflict minerals" doesn't exist in the Congo. And, this is because of the problem identified above. BP spilled oil in the Gulf of Mexico and within days began cleaning it up. The oil company has so far spent tens of billions to clean the Gulf and compensate people and businesses that were impacted. That was because a government with sufficient power and authority to investigate the incident and prosecute BP was in place. The legal system compelled BP to do what other oil companies that have similarly polluted other lands refused to do. A foreign government did not need to get involved when BP created the mess in the Gulf.

If a working system of authority, checks and balances exist in the Congo, a foreign government would not have to get involved. Electronic manufacturers are being asked to do what governments and the international community refuse to do. Like Congress (which included "conflict minerals" in the Dodd-Frank bill to show it is doing something about the problem in the Congo) component makers and OEMs will show steps, processes, actions and other moves taken to get rid of "conflict minerals" and this will result in reports like the one published by the Enough Project.

On the ground, neither Congress's action nor the ones being taken by electronic makers would ever be "enough."

R.J.Matthews
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Re: opportunity for cynicism
R.J.Matthews   8/19/2012 9:31:09 AM
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There are ways to dimish this problem douglas using the smelters as a choke point is one also the gradual rollout of closed pipe projects.



http://www.virtual-strategy.com/2012/08/16/robert-bosch-gmbh-becomes-first-company-automotive-sector-join-avx-%e2%80%9csolutions-hope%e2%80%9d-proje
 
http://solutions-network.org/site-solutionsforhope/
 

http://solutions-network.org/site-solutionsforhope/participants


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