IT’S the battle that pits one of Australia’s richest men against one of the world’s biggest video game makers. And it’s game on.
Mining billionaire and philanthropist Andrew Forrest has set his sights on Nintendo, hoping to force the Japanese giant to beef up measures ensuring its products contain no “conflict minerals”.
The name refers to minerals – commonly tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold – that are heavily mined in and around the Democratic Republic of Congo using forced labour, debt bondage and child slavery.
Walk Free, the anti-slavery group founded by Mr Forrest, is stepping up its campaign against Nintendo, which it says is yet to take concrete steps to guarantee that the microprocessors powering its consoles are free from the minerals.
The group started an email campaign encouraging people to quiz Nintendo chiefs about their conflict minerals policy last year. It has launched a new push after last month’s decision by Intel, the world’s largest semiconductor chip maker, to guarantee its microprocessors are conflict mineral free.
Close to 32,000 people have emailed Nintendo asking it to only use conflict-free smelters, conduct spot checks on suppliers and make its smelter supply chain public.
“As it stands we simply don’t know what steps Nintendo is taking to ensure its products are free of the violence, murder and modern slavery associated with the minerals that are in many of our electronic items,” the group said in an email to members.
Nintendo did not respond to questions from BusinessDaily. But it has a conflict minerals policy posted on its website that says it bans the use of conflict minerals and distributes this policy to its suppliers.
The renewed push on Nintendo comes after Mr Forrest, who has pledged to give away the bulk of his wealth, announced a deal last month with the Punjab state of Pakistan, allowing it to access cheap fuel technology in return for cracking down on slavery there.
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