Responsible mineral supply chains

Germany joins the European Partnership for Responsible Minerals

EPRM Members Meeting Nov. 2019

04.02.2020 |

Many everyday products such as smartphones, hard disks and car batteries contain minerals and metals that are often mined illegally in conflict regions in disregard of applicable minimum standards. In some locations, armed groups finance themselves with the revenues gained from the mining and trading of natural resources. This can prolong or reignite conflicts. In addition to this, a large part of the local population is dependent on income from Artisanal and Small Scale Mining (ASM). How can this link between conflicts and the mining of natural resources be broken?

The EU Regulation on Conflict Minerals adopted in 2017 addresses this issue. The import of these minerals, namely tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold (3TG), will be regulated by law throughout Europe from 2021, when importers of natural resources must then prove that they observe human rights standards and do not contribute to the financing of conflicts (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Due Diligence Guidance). It is estimated that 600 to 1000 importers and around 500 smelters and refineries will be directly and indirectly affected by the regulation respectively.

The European Partnership for Responsible Minerals (EPRM) is an accompanying measure to the EU regulation. The multi-stakeholder initiative brings together some 25 companies and civil society organisations, including Apple, Philips, Diakonia and Solidaridad. Germany, represented by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) was the third country after the Netherlands and Great Britain to join the initiative as a full member on 30 January 2020. At the European level, Germany will play a pioneering role in the implementation of the EU regulation on conflict minerals and tackle the issue of responsible supply chains in the extractives sector.

The EPRM promotes dialogue, networking and knowledge transfer between stakeholders in the supply chains of the respective minerals. To this end, it is currently establishing an online information portal where companies and other relevant stakeholders can obtain information about the requirements of the EU regulation, learn of positive experiences in implementing human rights due diligence obligations and share their knowledge.

In order to have a real impact on the ground in producing countries, the EU regulation must be flanked by local, specific development measures; otherwise, there is a risk that mining countries will be excluded from relevant value chains or that alternative business relationships will be entered into with buyers who circumvent the required standards. The EPRM addresses this issue through various support measures. Together with local partners in the mining countries, it supports projects which have a direct and sustainable influence on the mining conditions and the management of natural resources on site. An EPRM trust fund particularly finances responsible ASM projects, ranging from helping women to access municipal loans in the DR Congo, to technical support and training in responsible mining in Uganda and providing information to processing companies on the origin of the natural resources they are using.

The third call for proposals for the funding of further projects is currently underway. Companies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), public institutions and research institutes can submit ideas for projects related to supply chains in conflict-affected and high-risk areas (CAHRAS) by 23 March 2020. Complete project proposals must be submitted by 7 May 2020. More information on the call and application criteria is available on the EPRM website.

For further information please contact Janne Kaier-Tedesco.

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