Conflict-Free Mineral Exports on the Rise-Enough Project – by Robbie Whelan (Wall Street Journal – February 23, 2016)

Companies are buying more conflict-free tin, tungsten and tantalum as they face stricter reporting requirements about the source of their minerals

Companies are buying fewer minerals connected to militia groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to the Enough Project, a human rights group.

Enough found that armed groups control less of the trade in tin, tungsten and tantalum in the DRC than they did five or 10 years ago. That means more of the metals – used in everything from wedding rings to soup cans to cell phones – can be considered conflict free, the group said in a report released Tuesday.

Large swaths of the DRC have been gripped by a violent civil war for the last two decades, and rebel groups and factions of the Congolese Army have benefited financially from the illegal trafficking of conflict minerals.

The group credited the Dodd-Frank financial reform passed in 2010, which included a provision requiring publicly traded companies to disclose whether any products containing the three metals plus gold were connected to militia groups in the country. The requirement led to tighter regulation and increased production of conflict-free minerals, Enough said.

For example, in 2015, Eastern Congo exported 948 tons of certified conflict-free tantalum, a mineral used in the circuitry of the Playstation 4 and other video game systems.

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