The GoodElectronics Network, in collaboration with SOMO, Friends of the Earth/Milieudefensie and the Stop Child Labour Coalition, is set to hold a round table meeting on Responsible Mining for Electronics. The meeting, hosted by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, will gather together experts to highlight problems associated with the mining of cobalt in Democratic Republic of Congo, tin in Indonesia and gold in Mali. Representatives from the electronics industry, civil society organisations, experts and policymakers will discuss current and future initiatives on responsible sourcing of minerals. The intention is to formulate concrete next steps towards responsible sourcing of minerals.

Risky business

The electronics industry is an important user of minerals and metals. More than 300 metals are used in electronics products, and those such as gold, coltan, cobalt, tin and copper all have different applications. The mining of these minerals goes hand in hand with severe human rights and labour rights violations and social and environmental risks. Risks range from the worst forms of child labour to inhuman working conditions, severe degradation of water and soil, forced evictions and relocations of local communities. These risks and human rights violations are currently not properly recognised or addressed.

Who’s responsible?

In recent years, research and campaign organisations have successfully argued that the supply chain responsibility of electronics brands extends to the level of raw materials and primary resources. After initial reluctance and denial, substantial work has been done by electronics companies, individually as well as collectively, but mostly focused on conflict minerals, propelled by the reporting obligations set out under the US Dodd Frank Act 1520. SOMO and its partners believe it is high time to expand this focus beyond conflict minerals. Problems associated with the mining of other minerals, in other countries and regions, need to be urgently addressed.
Pauline Overeem (coordinator, GoodElectronics Network) says:

We are looking forward to frank and fruitful discussions and to carve out concrete paths for action towards responsible mining of minerals beyond the narrow scope of the so-called 3TG [tungsten, tin, tantalum and gold] minerals. GoodElectronics is pushing for a progressive and groundbreaking interpretation of corporate accountability, due diligence and supply chain transparency. While the current initiatives in this field, whether corporate, multistakeholder, or legal, may all have their merit, it is clear that they are far from sufficient. Mining for electronics today still causes human misery and that needs to be addressed.