Archive | Conflict Minerals

Op-Ed Were the raw materials in your iPhone mined by children in inhumane conditions? – by Brian Merchant (Los Angeles Times – July 23, 2017)

http://www.latimes.com/

Brian Merchant, an editor at Motherboard, is the author of “The One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone.”

Last year, I visited the sprawling mines of Cerro Rico, the “rich hill” that looms over Potosi, Bolivia. Four centuries ago, it supplied the silver that bankrolled the Spanish empire. Today, miners who work in the same tunnels as 16th century conscripted Incan laborers are providing tin for Apple products like the iPhone. It’s a powerful paradox — our most cutting-edge consumer devices are made from raw material obtained by methods barely advanced beyond colonial times.

Cerro Rico couldn’t be farther from Silicon Valley. Cigarette-scarred devil idols mark the mine entrances. Its support beams are split and cracked, and the air in the tunnels is thick with suffocating silica dust. According to a BBC report, the average lifespan of a Cerro Rico miner is 40 years. Worse, a UNICEF report found that children as young as 6 years old have worked in its tunnels.

Tin isn’t the only ingredient in an iPhone that’s obtained in ways that don’t quite match Apple’s “Supplier Code of Conduct,” which states that “all workers in our supply chain deserve a fair and ethical workplace.” Continue Reading →

Banro halts gold mine in Congo due to violence, shares collapse – by Cecilia Jamasmie (Mining.com – July 3, 2017)

http://www.mining.com/

Shares in Canadian gold miner Banro Corporation (TSX:BAA) (NYSE MKT:BAA) were getting hammered Monday after the company revealed it had to suspend operations and temporarily evacuate employees at its Namoya gold mine in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo due to violence.

The Toronto-based miner said the measures were taken after learning that 23 trucks belonging to a contractor of the mine were caught in crossfire between soldiers and a local self-defence militia near the town of Lulimba.

While drivers of those vehicles are safe, militiamen have not yet cleared the release of the trucks, the company said. Continue Reading →

Cost of Elon Musk’s Dream Much Higher Than He and Others Imagine – by Brian Rogers (Real Clear Energy – June 08, 2017)

http://www.realclearenergy.org/

Brian Rogers is the Executive Director of America Rising Squared (AR2) a conservative-based policy organization.

With Elon Musk protesting President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate accord by quitting a White House advisory council, and the new Model 3 rolling off the assembly line this summer, Tesla fans must be tempted to feel pretty good about themselves these days.

After all, the company’s stock price is hitting all-time highs as thousands join a two-year wait-list not only to drive Tesla’s latest vehicle, but to do something good for the planet!

But Tesla has a dirty little secret with big implications for its future. It’s what Greenpeace International co-founder Rex Weyler calls “The Tesla dream,” the false idea that Mr. Musk’s electric vehicles (EVs) are a true game-changing “clean energy” solution to global climate change. Continue Reading →

The Human Thread Of Suffering Behind The Production Of Our Cell Phones And Laptops – by Alexandra Willis (Huffington Post South Africa – May 5, 2017)

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.za/

Reports around the disregard for human and labour rights in the production of smartphones and other digital technology have been rife for years. Many of the components used in our devices are reportedly sourced through child labour and inhumane working conditions. The high value of these minerals has also fuelled competition, resulting in conflict involving mass killings and rape as a weapon of war.

All of us who own a PC, phone or other electronic gadget enjoy the benefits of new technologies, but rarely do we spare a thought as to how they are made. Inside many of these electronic devices are components that began life as minerals dug underground, sometimes at a great cost of human dignity.

Miners in countries such as Myanmar, Bolivia, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) use children as young as seven who work in perilous conditions, scavenging for minerals in industrial mines and washing and sorting them before they are sold. The minerals travel through a chain of suppliers through Asia and elsewhere to be smelted into metals, and then onto the world at large where they end up in electronics, as well in vehicles and jewelry. Continue Reading →

DR Congo miners upset at US ‘conflict mineral’ rules (Daily Mail/AFP – May 4, 2017)

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/

In the lush hills of eastern DR Congo, where the trade in rare minerals has long fed unrest, miners complain that recent US rules against “conflict minerals” have bitten into their meagre income.

“Since they brought in this law, things did get worse,” said miner Ombeni Chikala in South Kivu, the troubled mineral-rich eastern province of Democratic Republic of Congo.

Introduced in 2010, section 1502 of Washington’s Dodd-Frank law — known to the self-employed miners as “Obama’s law” — requires companies listed on the US stock exchange to report any use of conflict minerals to regulators. However the US government this year said the law was under review. Continue Reading →

Why Apple Won’t Be Able to Stop Mining Yet – by Adam Minter (Bloomberg News – April 26, 2017)

https://www.bloombergquint.com/

(Bloomberg View) — Just before Earth Day, Apple Inc. announced a new goal: to make its computers and phones and watches without mining any new raw materials. Instead, Apple would one day build its products “using only renewable resources or recycled material.” This is what’s known as a “closed loop,” in which new products are made exclusively from older versions of the same product.

If successful, Apple would no longer have to worry about digging holes in the ground, avoiding conflict minerals and the other messy details of high-tech manufacturing in the 21st century. It’s a bold idea, even for Apple, which can boast several past successes in promoting sustainable manufacturing and operations. Given both technological and commercial obstacles, however, it’s almost certain to fail.

Closed-loop recycling isn’t a new idea. In the 1930s, Ford Motor Co. spent several years operating a money-losing factory devoted to recycling old Fords into raw materials for new ones. More recently, Dell Inc. developed a breakthrough computer made using materials from old devices. Continue Reading →

Apple wants to try to “stop mining the Earth altogether” to make your iPhone – by  Zoë Schlanger (Quartz Media – April 20, 2017)

 

https://qz.com/

Apple just announced that it plans to stop relying on mined rare earth minerals and metals to make their products, and instead use only recycled sources.

Mines where rare earth mineral are extracted are often sites of exploitation, where workers, some children, are exposed to extremely toxic substances and dangerous working conditions for scant pay. The effluent from the mines poisons soil and groundwater supplies and wreaks environmental devastation, too. Continue Reading →

Here’s How Apple Is Doing On Conflict Minerals – by Caroline O’Donovan (BuzzFeed News – March 27, 2017)

https://www.buzzfeed.com/

Apple continues to pursue transparency around its supply chain as the Trump administration considers suspending requirements for businesses that buy conflict minerals.

Apple released its 2017 Supplier Responsibility Report today, as concern mounts over the potential impact of a draft directive from the Trump administration that would suspend legislation requiring companies to disclose whether their products contain conflict minerals.

Conflict minerals — substances like tantalum, tungsten, tin, and gold — are used in a variety of popular electronics, including smartphones. They are typically sourced from war-torn countries including the Democratic Republic of Congo, where their mining and sale has historically funded armed groups associated with murder, rape, and other human rights violations. Continue Reading →

Canadian mining companies turn bullish on Congo, despite its violence – by Geoffrey York (Globe and Mail – March 20, 2017)

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/

JOHANNESBURG – The Democratic Republic of the Congo, the vast war-torn country in the heart of Africa, has fascinated the world’s miners for decades. Its reputation for violence and corruption has long deterred most investors – but a growing number of Canadian miners are now convinced that the rewards outweigh the risks.

Companies such as Ivanhoe Mines Ltd., Banro Corp. and Alphamin Resources Corp. are expanding their operations in Congo, betting that the country’s huge mineral resources and improving transport links will unlock profits. Political unrest and lawlessness, however, are still major concerns for many companies in the country.

Congo’s enormous mineral wealth has been estimated to be worth trillions of dollars. With more than 1,100 minerals and precious metals identified, including the world’s largest cobalt reserves and huge deposits of gold and copper, it has “the potential to become one of the richest countries on the African continent and a driver of African growth,” the World Bank says. Continue Reading →

Trump order on conflict minerals would send warlords carte blanche signal, say critics – by Joan Leishman (CBC News World – March 18, 2017)

http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/

Others say regulation poses financial burden and some easily circumvent rule in Democratic Republic of Congo

A battle involving some of America’s most powerful men and some of Africa’s most powerful warlords is being waged in Donald Trump’s White House. At stake are billions of dollars, child labour, sexual violence, and the precious minerals that make our tech gadgets work.

Soon after Trump took office, his plan to suspend the law on what are known as conflict minerals was leaked to the media.

The law was part of former president Barack Obama’s 2010 financial reform package known as the Dodd-Frank Act. Section 1502 of the act requires U.S. companies to avoid using conflict minerals from Congo and surrounding countries that are used to fund war, perpetuating human rights atrocities. Continue Reading →

Meet Dorsen, 8, who mines cobalt to make your smartphone work – by Alex Crawford (Sky News.com – February 2017)

http://news.sky.com/

A Sky News investigation has found children as young as four working in Congolese mines where cobalt is extracted for smartphones.

The mineral is an essential component of batteries for smartphones and laptops, making billions for multinationals such as Apple and Samsung, yet many of those working to extract it are earning as little as 8p a day in desperately dangerous conditions.

With little regulation requiring companies to trace their cobalt supply lines, and most of the world’s cobalt coming from the Democratic Republic of Congo, the chances are your smartphone contains a battery with cobalt mined by children in the central African nation. Continue Reading →

Apple, Intel and more oppose scrapping U.S. conflict-mineral regulation – by Todd C. Frankel (Toronto Star/Washington Post – February 25, 2016)

https://www.thestar.com/

Tech giants, jewellers believe their continued efforts to make “conflict-free” products will be undermined without the law. Apple doesn’t want to see it scrapped. Neither does Intel or Tiffany & Co.

But the U.S. conflict-minerals law — which requires American public companies to avoid using minerals that fund war and human rights abuses in the Congo region — is widely seen today as facing its most serious threat since its passage in 2010.

The White House is considering a suspension of the law, part of U.S. President Donald Trump’s pledge to cut government regulations and a long-held goal of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. If that does not happen, congressional Republicans are expected to try defunding it, which they attempted last year. At the same time, federal regulators recently announced that they plan to “reconsider” the law’s scope. The acting head of the Securities and Exchange Commission, the agency that oversees the regulation, called it “a misguided rule.” Continue Reading →

Uganda gold refinery raises alarm over conflict minerals (Daily Mail – February 22, 2017)

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/

AFP – The inauguration of Uganda’s first gold refinery sparked concern Wednesday over the possibility of dirty minerals from regional conflict zones making their way into the country.

Transparency International’s Peter Wandera told AFP the country’s failure to regulate the mineral sector meant there were “high chances” the refinery could contribute to conflicts, such as that in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo where rebels are propped up by illegal mining.

“Uganda has continuously failed to implement the necessary components … to reduce the trade in conflict minerals from the DRC,” he said. Continue Reading →

Rwanda: Is Trump’s Plan to Repeal Conflict Minerals Rule a Gift for Rwanda? – by Ivan R. Mugisha (All Africa.com – February 21, 2017)

http://allafrica.com/

Rwanda is counting on US President Donald Trump coming good on his intention to suspend a law that bars companies from handling conflict minerals to save the country more than $4 million spent annually on compliance.

President Trump had throughout his campaign threatened to do away with the law, known as the Dodd Frank Act, which he argued restricted the growth of manufacturing in the US. The Dodd Frank Act was signed into law by his predecessor Barack Obama in 2010. The legislation was intended to safeguard stability in mineral-rich conflict- prone countries like those in the Great Lakes region, by ensuring that natural resources were not used to fund conflicts.

Last week, a leaked memorandum from the White House showed that President Trump had drafted an executive order suspending the Dodd Frank Act for two years. Continue Reading →

African states wary of potential repeal of ‘conflict minerals’ rule – by Aaron Ross and Ed Cropley (Reuters U.S. – February 15, 2017)

http://www.reuters.com/

A possible plan by U.S. President Donald Trump to suspend a rule on “conflict minerals” could help fund armed groups and contribute to a surge in unrest in central Africa, regional states said on Wednesday.

Sources told Reuters last week that Trump planned to issue a directive targeting a Dodd-Frank rule that requires companies to disclose whether their products contain minerals from war-torn parts of Africa, including Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

A leaked draft seen by Reuters calls for the rule to be suspended for two years. Competition for Congo’s vast mineral resources has fueled two decades of conflict in its eastern provinces, including a 1998-2003 regional war that killed millions, most from hunger and disease. Continue Reading →