Starting next month, publicly traded U.S. companies will have to report their use of certain minerals and their derivatives to the government. As an article ("Conflict minerals and corporate supply chains: The challenge of complying with Dodd-Frank") in the Q1 issue of our sister publication, CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly, explains, the regulations require publicly held U.S. companies to report whether or not the tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold used in their products are "conflict minerals"—that is, minerals derived from ores mined in areas controlled by armed groups suspected of human rights violations in Africa. The rules will affect tens of thousands of manufacturers and suppliers worldwide.
One company in the warehousing/logistics space that is putting significant resources into avoiding the use of conflict minerals is Motorola Solutions Inc., the manufacturer of automatic data capture and communication systems and equipment. In 2011, Motorola and AVX Corp., an electronic components supplier, founded Solutions for Hope, a program to support responsible, traceable sourcing of tantalum in the conflict-prone Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The Solutions for Hope platform oversees a "closed-pipe" supply model in two regions of that country for a specified set of suppliers, including the mines and smelters, the capacitor manufacturer (AVX), and the end user (Motorola).
According to Motorola and AVX, the program has allowed the companies to source tantalum (a material derived from the mineral coltan that is used to make certain capacitors) from the DRC "conflict free," or without the involvement of illegal armed groups. As a result, Solutions for Hope not only validates that conflict minerals do not enter the supply chain but also creates economic benefits for local miners and their families, they said. The partners are currently looking at expanding the Solutions for Hope model to other minerals and locations in the DRC.