AMD to implement process to trace mineral sources

9 May 2011

9 May 2011 | Angeline Albert

Semiconductor manufacturer AMD is developing a standard process to track the source of minerals in its supply chain to prevent the use of those from war zones.

According to the firm’s latest corporate social responsibilityreport, the company is working with the ElectronicIndustry Citizenship Coalition (EICC) to trace the path of minerals such as tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold - which the firm uses in its products - from smelters through the supply chain. The goal is to come up with a list of audited “conflict-free smelters” that can be relied upon as a source.

Such minerals are often found in war-torn countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, and it is believed the sale of such items could provide financing that aggravates conflicts.

“While mapping our supply chain back to the smelter is very complex, we are committed to the process and will continue to work with our business partners - both customers and suppliers - to develop a workable and efficient tracking system,” the report said.

AMD is also working with competitors and non-governmental organisations to come up with a way to report where minerals they use come from to the US government.

As part of new financial regulations passed last year, US-based companies have to disclose both how they have identified the source of their raw materials, and what steps they have taken to eliminate the use of “conflict minerals” from the supply chain. The group’s goal is to create a workable way for both companies and the US government to implement these requirements.

The coalition of organisations has recommended the creation of an international certification system that would make maintaining mining operations economically unfavourable for armed groups.

But AMD warned: “If the implementation of the new law is not handled carefully, it may have the unintended consequence of banning or significantly reducing mineral exports from the DRC region, which could lead to more suffering.”

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