Apple, Intel, and Conflict Minerals

Bloomberg: U.S. President Barack Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act on July 21, 2010. And the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) will issue regulations to eliminate purchases of conflict minerals this month. Part of those regulations will require U.S. companies to audit mineral supplies and identify purchases tainted by the conflict in Congo.

Congo is the largest exporter of tin ore in Africa and mineral extraction sometimes involve heavily-armed militia groups that brutally decimate villages, rape women, and at gun-point force men and children to work at mines. Tin is used in the display industry for production of Indium Tin Oxide (ITO), a transparent conductor, that allows all LCDs in smartphones, tablets, notebook PCs, monitors, and TVs to work.

Apple and Intel announced that conflict minerals will not be used in the production of its products as part of the Conflict-Free Smelter program, which was launched by two electronics industry organizations: the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) and the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC). According to ITRI, the minerals covered under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act include: coltan (columbite-tantalite, which is a source for tantalum), cassiterite (tin), wolframite (tungsten), and gold.