Blood Diamonds of Ore: GE Takes On Conflict Minerals

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Blood Diamonds of Ore: GE Takes On Conflict Minerals

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Wolframite Mining in the DRC’s Kailo Province: Wolframite rocks are the source of tungsten, a rare hard metal used in light bulb filaments, machine tools, and catalysts in coal-fired power plants.

Friday, October 19, 2012 - 11:00am

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The Democratic Republic of Congo is Africa’s second largest country, but also the continent’s most violent. Over the last two decades, foreign and domestic armies, militias and gangs of armed thugs have been waging war and staging rebellions that have killed at least 5.5 million people and displaced many more. The fighters sustain their troops with money from the DRC’s rich mineral deposits. Observers estimate that armed groups control half of the tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold mines in the vast eastern part of the country and generate as much as $225 million annually from the mineral quarries. “They may own the mines in the conflict region, or tax the mines or tax the trade routes used to export the minerals,” says Sandy Merber, counsel for international trade regulation and sourcing at GE.

Because manufacturers around the world use these minerals in everything from digital cameras and cell phones to paint and golf clubs, NGOs seeking to cut off the funding have pushed companies to audit their supply chains to reduce the risk that the minerals they are using may support the conflict. In August, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission announced a new reporting rule that requires listed companies to “publicly disclose their use of conflict minerals that originated in the DRC or an adjoining country.” GE, through its citizenship initiatives, has been working with companies, NGOs, investors as well as government agencies to foster a system that supports cutting out conflict minerals from the supply chain and improves reporting.

Read more about how GE is taking on conflict minerals at RD Mag.

*This article originally appeared in RD Mag

Keywords: Social Impact & Volunteering | Conflict Minerals | Democratic Republic of Congo | GE | Human Rights | Innovation & Technology | blood diamonds

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