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Supply Chain
Electronics Industry Initiative Calls on More Companies to Become ‘Conflict-Free’

The Conflict-Free Sourcing Initiative (CFSI), a leading industry initiative on conflict minerals, is calling on more companies to join over 120 companies from seven different industries to already become conflict-free.

The CFSI provides vital sourcing information that enables companies to make informed choices about minerals they use in their products — including helping companies meet their upcoming reporting deadline related to U.S. conflict minerals regulations.

In 2010, the Dodd-Frank Act, which focused on reforming the financial sector, also held provisions aimed at reducing the use of conflict minerals, which spurred Intel and other electronics industry manufacturers to act. Earlier this month at the Consumer Electrics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich challenged the electronics industry to become conflict-free.

The four “conflict minerals” most commonly associated with the term are tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold, but the category also includes copper, neodymium, dysprosium, coltan (a dense, black mineral from which tantalum is extracted) and terbium. Though China produces 90 percent of the world’s rare earth minerals, a significant concentration exists in the eastern regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) near the Rwanda border.

The DRC has been at the center of a decades-long conflict that some have dubbed “Africa’s World War,” which has claimed more than three million lives to date. Much of the violence is funded by the extraction of these rare earth, or conflict minerals, according to a report to the United Nations Security Council Committee. The trade often forces children into the dirty and dangerous work required to ready these elements for export.

“We’ve focused for over five years on an industry solution to an industry challenge: becoming conflict-free,” said Michael Rohwer, program director for the Conflict-Free Sourcing Initiative. “It has been a major challenge and there have been people who’ve questioned that we could even do it. By collaborating and focusing on the pinch point in the metals supply chain — smelters and refiners — we’re now able to provide our members with the information they need to make responsible choices about conflict minerals in their products.”

The CFSI provides a range of tools and resources that support responsible sourcing, including through the Conflict-Free Smelter Program and its smelter audit program, access to Reasonable Country of Origin Information (RCOI) data, the Conflict Minerals Reporting Template, which ensures consistent sourcing data throughout the supply chain, and a range of guidance and analysis papers on conflict minerals due diligence and best practices.

The CFSI also runs twice-yearly workshops on conflict minerals issues, which are open to all participants. The 13th CFSI Workshop will take place in Brussels on March 17-18, 2014 with a special focus on pending EU regulations and conflict minerals initiatives based in the Great Lakes region.

Any company that uses or transacts in tantalum, tin, tungsten or gold is eligible for membership in the CFSI. The membership application is available online, along with further details about member benefits and annual fees.

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