April 7th, 2011
Its rare to find someone who doesn’t have an electronic device – be it an ipod, ipad, computer, cell phone ect. The demand for these products is surging to meet the leaps and bound we have made in technology. These advanced electronic devices require rare minerals, such as copper, tungsten and coltan, to make the battery and other circuitry components. Unfortunately, these minerals are mostly found in areas that are undergoing political strife and war – such as the Democratic Republic of Congo. This has given the label Conflict Minerals, similar to the infamous Blood Diamonds of Sierra Leone. Purchasing minerals from these areas helps fund the ongoing conflict and corruption – as well as endangering young children who are forced to mine them.
Happily – both Apple and Intel have agreed to stop purchasing Conflict Minerals. This will seriously drive down the demand for minerals from these regions and maybe even cease much of the income made from the element exports. Apple and Intel were actually pushed into this decision due to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act, which was passed last year. There is a section deep in the bill that sets regulations on preventing the purchase of conflict minerals. By 2012, all companies will be required to audit their purchasing of minerals to be sure none of it is sourced from conflict areas.
I am very glad to hear that this regulation has been put into law, even if it was done somewhat sneakily. Its frustrating to see the United States spend massive sums of money on aid and military protection for some countries – while foolishly funding war in others. This goes back to knowing where we get our products from – be it food, electronics, even wood for our furniture. We have so much purchasing power – we should use it to do the right thing as often as we can.