An unfortunate fact: A lot of our most popular electronics such as cellphones, laptops and digital cameras are made from so-called “conflict minerals”— minerals that have been funding the deadly conflict in Central Africa’s Democratic Republic of Congo, which has been responsible for the deaths of millions of people for more than a decade.
Similar to the “blood diamonds” from West Africa’s Sierra Leone, many foreign companies try to do their best to avoid such conflict minerals, most times refusing to do business in the nation at all.
Now, after years of criticism, a unit of the cellphone manufacturer recently announced the launch of the Solutions for Hope Project, an initiative targeted at sourcing conflict-free tantalum from the Congo. Tantalum, a mineral used in electronic products, is plentiful in the nation.
From the release:
With the Solutions for Hope Project, Motorola Solutions and a leading tantalum capacitor supplier have worked with a defined set of key suppliers to create a closed-pipe supply line, with all suppliers…identified in advance.
The initiative addresses the fact that thousands of people in the nation, in non-conflict areas, depend on mining for their livelihoods. So instead of pulling out of the nation altogether, they have developed a system with a “defined set of key suppliers” to ensure that everyone involved in the process from the miner to the component manufacturer are legit. Tantalum will start being produced through the Solutions for Hope Project by the end of this month, according to the press release.
With the initiative, the company hopes to set a precedent.
“We have helped to create this supply line to demonstrate that the DRC can and should remain a viable source of conflict-free minerals,” said Rich Valin, corporate vice president, chief procurement officer, Motorola Solutions. “This tightly controlled supply line will ensure conflict-free tantalum for these capacitors and allow time for a much-needed conflict-free verification system to develop in the DRC.”
The U.S. government is also trying to do its part to avoid the use of conflict minerals. Recent legislation requires companies to reveal the specific minerals in their products and how they have tried to make sure they are conflict-free. However, there is currently no standard system in place to verify mineral sources.
Get more facts about Congo’s conflict minerals here.