Bill forces Apple and Intel to disclose use of 'conflict minerals'

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Hi-tech companies could be forced to admit whether they're buying minerals that fuel violence in Congo.

Friday's Financial Reform Bill includes an amendment that requires companies to make annual disclosure to the Securities and Exchange Commission about the origin of minerals used in cellphones, computers and other electronics products.

The amendment was introduced by Senator Sam Brownback, and was acecpted without opposition. It aims to counter the use of 'conflict minerals' which are believed to be generating funds for violent militias in Congo.

The move coincides with a new advertisement from campaigning group Enough Project which spoofs Apple's famous "I'm a Mac ... And I'm a PC" ads.

Enough Project claims that the purchase of tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold, has supplied $180 million to the four militias involved in the conflict. Five million people have been killed in the last ten years, and hundreds of thousands of women and
girls raped.

"Armed militias use violence to control mines and trading routes," says the ad. "And then make hundreds of millions from selling these minerals to electronics companies."

Enough's John Prendergast said he was delighted with the inclusion of the amendment. "A year ago most members of Congress hadn't even heard of conflict minerals," he says.

"In the middle of a turbulent legislative calendar, activists all over the country were heard loudly and clearly: we demand conflict-free products and we expect our legislators to do all they can to ensure that."