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EU obliges firms to source responsibly in crackdown on conflict minerals

The EU has agreed on a framework aimed at stopping the financing of armed groups through trade in conflict minerals.

The move is part of work to ensure that EU companies responsibly source tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold – minerals used in mobile phones, cars and jewellery.

The framework, agreed after negotiations between the EU's commission, council and parliament, includes obligations for the "upstream" part of the supply chain, including smelters and refiners, to source responsibly. The vast majority of metals and minerals imported to the EU will be covered, while small volume importers will be exempted.

The EU approach will build upon the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for responsible mineral sourcing.

The commission will also take other steps, including developing reporting tools, to further boost supply chain due diligence by EU "downstream" companies that use these metals and minerals as components in goods.

The framework will be followed by technical work, with the adoption of a regulation in the coming months.

Speaking on behalf of the council, Lilianne Ploumen, minister for foreign trade and development cooperation in the Netherlands, said the EU was committed to preventing international trade in minerals from financing warlords, criminals and human rights abusers.

Chairman of the European Parliament’s INTA committee, Bernd Lange, said: “We need to step up to our responsibilities and finally break the vicious cycle between the trade in minerals and the financing of conflict.”

INTA rapporteur Iuliu Winkler said: “This framework paves the way for an effective and workable EU regulation that will make a real impact on the ground.”

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