Conflict minerals are resources that are mined and used to influence and finance armed conflict, human rights abuses, and violence.
Global Witness defines conflict resources as "natural resources whose systematic exploitation and trade in a context of conflict contribute to, benefit from or result in the commission of serious violations of human rights, violations of international humanitarian law or violations amounting to crimes under international law".
Gold that is mined and traded in conflict areas is, by definition, dirty gold.
Conflict Minerals in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
In the DRC a decade-long conflict that has produced atrocious human rights violations, gender-based violence, rampant rape, and slavery (UN Report, State Dept. Report). This conflict, and associated atrocities, is often financed by the extraction and sale of conflict minerals. These include tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold.
It is because of the growing public awareness of conflict minerals, and violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), that the US Congress included Section 1502 in the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act. This section requires that companies take steps to understand if their supply chain contains conflict minerals from the DRC.
The goal of Section 1502 is to eliminate demand for conflict minerals by informing consumers whether they’re purchasing goods manufactured with conflict minerals.
For more information:
- Earthworks: Conflict minerals – the Dodd Frank Act, Section 1502
- Earthworks blogs on conflict minerals
- Enough Project’s campaign to stop conflict mineral trade
- International Corporate Accoutability’s work on conflict minerals