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EU parliament to vote on voluntary conflict mineral law

The European Parliament will vote on a new law this week that will restrict the trade in minerals whose sale could fund armed conflict through a self-certification programme and import restrictions.27 May 2015

Military groups in areas such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo often use the sale of these minerals, such as tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold, to fund their activities, the Parliament said in a statement.

The new proposal aims to end this through a system of self-certification for importers, smelters and refiners. It also proposes to limit the import of minerals from countries and regions that are affected by armed conflict.

The US has already introduced legal requirements for corporations, focused on the area around the African great lakes, the Parliament said.

Romanian European Parliament member Iuliu Winkler, who is steering the legislation through the Parliament, said: "My objective is to elaborate an efficient, balanced and workable regulation capable of stopping profits from the trade of minerals being used to fund armed conflict while promoting responsible sourcing from conflict-affected areas."

The proposed system is voluntary rather than mandatory, but the Parliament is divided over whether a mandatory certification scheme should apply to everyone in the supply chain, it said.

If approved, the regulation will give EU importers "the opportunity to deepen ongoing efforts to ensure clean supply chains when trading legitimately with operators in conflict-affected countries," the Parliament said.

With more than 400 importers of such ores and metals, the EU is among the largest markets for tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold.