Next week, the Securities and Exchange Commission is due to finally enforce a Dodd-Frank requirement where U.S. companies ensure their use of supply chain minerals — tungsten, tin, tantalum, and gold — does not fund armed groups in Central Africa.
According to a new report from CAP’s Enough Project, a number of companies have anticipated the rule with steps toward transparency and pressuring suppliers. The report singles out Intel, Motorola, HP, and Apple as electronic industry leaders on this trend of auditing and sourcing the supply chain. While most companies have made more than 30 percent progress, Nintendo places dead-last as the only company to not take a single effort on the issue. Sharp, HTC, Nikon, and Canon, are other exceptions to the industry trend, posting less than 10 percent progress toward sourcing conflict minerals.
Essentially every electronic device — from cellphones to laptops to MP3 players — is manufactured using similar minerals, which can be smuggled from Congo and neighboring countries. The companies ranked here do not directly partner with groups guilty of murder and human rights abuse, but they do indirectly fund them through a complicated, nontransparent supply chain. Enforcing the Dodd-Frank rule is an essential step to this practice’s end, by requiring more transparency and accountability from large American companies.
Intel has emerged as a leader for making the first commitment to producing a conflict-free product by 2013, while Apple will require suppliers to use audited, conflict-free smelters. Microsoft and Motorola, both listed with 35 percent progress, split from the U.S. Chamber this spring for the Chamber’s efforts against regulation.
Most companies have made some strides toward rooting out conflict minerals, shown in the chart below with Enough’s full ranking: