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Parliament votes for tougher conflict minerals regulation

May 21, 2015

Parliament votes for tougher conflict minerals regulation

European gold, tantalum (the material that makes mobile phones vibrate), tungsten and tin imports from conflict zones could be subjected to tougher surveillance procedures under a new draft regulation voted on by the European Parliament.

MEPs in Strasbourg voted to enforce an obligatory monitoring system for the whole supply chain of "conflict minerals", affecting 800,000 European companies.

Applause broke out as lawmakers at the last minute passed amendments calling for compulsory ethical sourcing of materials from conflict areas like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Colombia and Afghanistan. The amendments passed by a vote of 378 to 300, with 11 abstentions.

"I must confess that it's been one of the most intense moments I've experienced since becoming a member of the European parliament," said Socialist Gianni Pittella of Italy, who leads the second biggest bloc in the assembly.

Mineral importers, smelters and refineries, but also manufacturers of consumer products (mobile phones, tablets, washing machines) will have to ensure that revenues from the minerals they use are not funding conflicts.

The bill is largely aimed at Africa, where minerals play a role in several violent conflicts. The Great Lakes region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is particularly affected by the phenomenon. Mineral production accounts for an average of 24% of gross national product (GDP) in African countries, and is implicated in no fewer than 27 conflicts on the continent.

Read more at EurActiv.

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