On Monday 29 April, techUK held an event which explored what responsible mineral sourcing looked like with 16 speakers from international organisations, government, industry and specialist consultancies.
Among the key points made during the day:
- Companies are not just concentrating on “conflict minerals” but “responsible sourcing” in the round: Labour conditions, practices and rights; health, safety and environmental standards; along with, land rights, governance, bribery and corruption are also important facets that are being focused on too.
- The situation is dynamic: While traditional gold, tin, tungsten and tantalum have been under the spotlight, cobalt, mica, gemstones and jade are gaining attention and new regions are growing in significance. The situation is likely to remain dynamic.
- Legislation and stakeholder pressure is driving change: Regulators, institutional investors and increasingly consumers have increasingly greater expectations for companies to be more transparent about their operating practices and to assume greater responsibility for the well-being of people and the environment, which includes those in extended supply chains.
- Reconsider divesting from a region or from artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM): While this might be seen as an easy solution to support claims to be “conflict free”, it may lead to other significant social impacts for those involved in upstream supply chains. ASM employs around 40 million people in 80 countries, and an estimated 150 million people indirectly dependent on it for their livelihood. We must be more active in addressing underlying issues.
- Due diligence is important: The OECD’s five-step framework is the basis for high quality due diligence and provides a framework for continual improvement. It’s not about having no risk it’s about recognising the risks in your supply chain and having in place the mechanisms for dealing with them.
- Work together: No one downstream user will solve upstream problems.The Responsible Business Alliance, London Bullion Markets Association, the Responsible Jewellery Council and the European Partnership on Responsible Minerals provide an important framework in leveraging impact, avoiding duplication and collectively address issues on the ground.
Please see here for a more detailed summary of each of the sessions, along with links to key resources and sources of further information. Presentations are available to download below.
Presentation slides are available here: