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EU imposes due diligence on conflict minerals

23 November 2016, 18:24 CET
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EU imposes due diligence on conflict minerals

Conflict minerals - Image Rob Lavinsky,

(STRASBOURG) - The EU agreed a draft regulation on 'conflict minerals' Tuesday with the aim of stopping the financing of armed groups and human rights abuses through trade in minerals from conflict areas.

Under the informal deal agreed by MEPs, ministers and the EU Commission, all but the smallest EU importers of tin, tungsten, tantalum, gold and their ores will have to do "due diligence" checks on their suppliers, and big manufacturers will also have to disclose how they plan to monitor their sources to comply with the rules.

The regulation carries clear obligations to source responsibly for the 'upstream' part of the production process, which involves the extraction and refining of these minerals.

The vast majority of metals and minerals imported to the EU will be covered, while small volume importers will be exempt from these obligations.

The regulation also allows companies to become a responsible importer by declaring in writing to the competent authority in a member state that it follows the due diligence obligations set in the regulation.

A list of these importers will be published by the Commission. The competent authorities will carry out checks to ensure that EU importers of minerals and metals comply with their due diligence obligations.

The regulation applies to all conflict-affected and high risk areas in the world, of which the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Great Lakes region are the most obvious examples. The Commission will select experts via a tender procedure to draw up a non-exhaustive list of areas and other due diligence issues to be addressed in a "Handbook" for operators.

Country of origin will not be the only indicator, however: information on transit or an irresponsible supplier should also prompt a background check. Companies sourcing from areas that are not on the list will therefore still be responsible for doing due diligence checks on sources

The Commission will also draft a handbook including non-binding guidelines to help companies, and especially SMEs, with the identification of conflict-affected and high-risk areas.

The agreement still has to be confirmed by the EU Member States. The Presidency is expected to present the agreed text for approval by member states' ambassadors on 7 December.

Steps of the procedure

Background: Conflict minerals at a glance (May 2015)

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