California Passes Conflict Mineral Bill
The Enough Project reports:
“By a vote of 67 to 11, the California state assembly passed a bill that prohibits state agencies from signing contracts with companies that fail to comply with federal regulations aimed at deterring business with armed groups in eastern Congo.”
This is an important, unprecedented step, as it is the first state bill to be passed regarding Congo conflict minerals.
“Armed groups earn hundreds of millions of dollars per year by trading four main minerals: the ores that produce tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold. This money enables the militias to purchase large numbers of weapons and continue their campaign of brutal violence against civilians, with some of the worst abuses occurring in mining areas.”
The Enough Project’s Raise Hope for Congo Campaign has been working to raise awareness, especially on college campuses through the Conflict-Free Campus Initiative, and to urge officials to “commit to measures that pressure electronics companies to take responsibility for the minerals in their supply chains.” A majority of minerals from the Democratic Republic of the Congo are used in electronic devices, and the lack of transparency in the system means that consumers have no way to “ensure that their purchases are not financing armed groups that regularly commit atrocities, including mass rape,” according to Raise Hope for Congo.
The California bill is a significant step in urging companies to adopt a conflict-free policy, and ensuring that their products do not contain conflict minerals. Perhaps this step will stimulate other states to take similar action.