13. Responsible sourcing and due diligence in supply chains
While ASM, and minerals more broadly, are not necessarily the cause of conflict and war, money made from ASM activities has been used to fund and perpetuate wars. The terms ‘blood diamond’ and ‘conflict minerals’ are often used to describe diamonds and minerals mined by artisanal and small-scale miners in areas of armed conflict.
Responsible sourcing and diligence initiatives are also implemented to ensure the mining and production of minerals do not contribute to, or are associated with, with human rights abuses and the worst forms of child labour.
Conflict minerals include tin, tungsten, and tantalum and their associated mineral ores of cassiterite, wolframite, and coltan. Together, these are commonly referred to as the 3Ts or 3TG when grouped together with gold.
Tantalum from the metallic ore coltan (short for columbite-tantalite) is used to make key components (specifically capacitors) of many electronic devices such as smartphones and laptops and as such has been in increasingly high demand over the past decade.
Sub -Saharan Africa is most commonly associated with conflict minerals and blood diamonds. The Democratic Republic of Congo and neighbouring countries in the Africa’s Great Lakes region such as Rwanda and Burundi are often associated with conflict minerals. So-called blood diamonds have also been linked to conflicts in Angola, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
A number of international initiatives, laws, due diligence and certification schemes, and non-binding guidance documents have been put in place to try and stop the sale and purchase of these minerals contributing to conflict, as well as the worst forms of child labour, and to ensure companies have fully traceably and transparent supply chains free from conflict minerals.
Key responsible sourcing initiatives include:
- International Conference on the Great Lakes Region’s (ICGLR’s) Regional Certification Mechanism
- IMPACT’s Just Gold project
- OECD Due Diligence Guidance on Responsible Supply Chains
- Regulation (EU) 2017/821 of the European Parliament ‘EU Conflict Minerals Regulation’
- Responsible Jewellery Council Code of Practices
- Section 1502 of the US Dodd-Frank Act and rules published by the Securities Exchange Commission
Key organisations involved in responsible sourcing for jewellery making include: