EU Proposal Would Make Conflict Minerals Compliance Mandatory for EU Smelters and Refiners

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April 15, 2015Kirsten WallerstedtBlog

The European Parliament's Committee on International Trade (INTA) voted yesterday for a conflict minerals law in the EU that would impose mandatory obligations on smelters and refiners located in the EU. The proposal includes voluntary self-certification options for importers and downstream operators. The legislation now goes to the full Parliament for a vote in May.

If passed as proposed, the law will affect smelters and refiners of tin, gold, tantalum and tungsten (3TG). The INTA Committee voted down a proposal to expand the scope beyond 3TG. The Committee also rejected amendments that would have made the law mandatory for importers and downstream companies; 3TG are used in a wide variety of products from electronics and automotive to apparel and aerospace. Under the proposal these companies have the option to self-certify as a responsible importer, which would come with some incentives.

The EU proposal is modeled on the U.S. law, though it has several key differences. The U.S. law requires public manufacturers to determine the source and chain of custody of 3TG in their supply chain, and to exercise due diligence to mitigate the risk that they source from conflict-affected mines in the Democratic Republic of the Congo or any of its adjoining countries. The proposed EU law would not limit its application to this region, but would be applicable to minerals from any conflict-affected or high-risk area around the globe. The EU law is also limited to smelters and refiners, while the U.S. law affects public manufacturers.

The European proposal, if passed into law, will have a positive business impact on the efforts of companies who are subject to the U.S. law, and those who are in the 3TG supply chain of such a company. The European smelters and refiners would, under the proposal, be required to ensure conflict-free sourcing and thus would have to change from conflict sources, or would put pressure on mines and traders in their supply chain to become conflict-free. About 5% of smelters and refiners worldwide are located in the EU.

For more resources, please visit 3E's Conflict Minerals page