LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Abuses linked to mining in countries such as Myanmar and Colombia are being overlooked by technology companies focused only on eliminating “conflict minerals” from war-torn parts of Africa in their supply chains, researchers said on Thursday.
In Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), competition for mineral resources has fueled two decades of conflict in its eastern provinces, including a 1998-2003 war that killed millions, mostly from hunger and disease.
Congo’s supply of tantalum, tin, tungsten and gold – metals used in smartphones, batteries and laptops – has been under scrutiny since 2010, when U.S. laws required U.S.-listed firms to ensure supply chains were free from “conflict minerals”.
Yet the same minerals are being quarried in areas controlled by armed groups — sometimes using child labor — in countries such as Myanmar, Bolivia and Rwanda, according to research published by Verisk Maplecroft on Thursday.
The problem for tech companies was being able to trace the metals used in their products to the source mine or smelter, the risk consultancy group said in a report.
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