High-tech equipment such as smartphones, tablets and cars are able to run thanks to minerals and metals such as tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold. However, as their mining and illegal trade are often controlled by armed groups, they also help to feed a vicious circle of conflicts.On 16 March MEPs voted in favour of making EU companies take responsibility for the origin of the minerals they import.
Resolution author Iuliu Winkler, a Romanian member of the EPP group, explained: “As the European Parliament we have the responsibility to break the link between the trade of minerals, which are very important for our industries, and the financing of conflicts,” – the rapporteur Iuliu Winkler (Romania, EPP) said.
The regulation concerns tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold and applies to all conflict-affected and high-risk areas in the world, of which the most obvious examples are the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Great Lakes region.
The EU policy towards ‘conflict minerals’ has come into contradiction with the EU approach of the incumbent administration.
Products that use these minerals and metals includes jewellery as well as many high-tech devices created by the automotive, electronics, aerospace, packaging, construction, lighting, industrial machinery and tooling industries.