Conflict Minerals

Conflict Minerals 

The UK Government is committed to preventing conflict and building stability overseas.  to improving the protection of human rights  and the rule of law.

The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights make clear, all companies have an important role to play in respecting human rights through responsible operations and respecting all relevant national and international laws and standards.

The aim is to ensure that business activities do not contribute to conflict, and that companies understand their role in improving oversight and management of the sector. Many of the tools and initiatives involved have wider geographical scope and application than solely the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Similar considerations are reflected by the European Union who in May 2017 published EU 2017/821 due diligence obligations for union importers originating from conflict-affected and high risk areas

Conflict minerals are sourced from locations in conditions of armed conflict and human rights abuses which are sold or traded to fund  armed groups. This has for some years been a particular problem in the DRC with its huge  mineral wealth..

Alongside international partners the UK Government are working to ensure that the DRC’s mineral wealth is brought under legitimate control, as a source of revenue for the state and the local population, thereby restricting financial support to armed groups.

Conflict minerals in the eastern DRC are generally defined ( in US legislation and the OECD due diligence guidance for responsible mineral supply chains) as cassiterite (tin), coltan (tantalum), wolframite (tungsten) and gold, or derivatives of these minerals. Sometimes these minerals are referred to as the ‘three Ts’ - tin, tantalum and tungsten (and gold).




Major uses


Ore from which tin is extracted

Plating and solders for joining pipes and electronic circuits


Ore from which tantalum is extracted

Electrical components (including those used in mobile phones, computers, videogame consoles), aircraft and surgical components


Rare metal found in a native (pure) form and obtained as a by-product of other mining operations

Jewellery, electronic, communications and aerospace equipment


Ore from which tungsten is extracted

Metal wires, electrodes and contacts in lighting, electronic, electrical, heating and welding applications


Companies whose supply chains involve any of the conflict minerals listed above should implement the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas. This Guidance provides management recommendations for global responsible supply chains of minerals to help companies to respect human rights and avoid contributing to conflict through their mineral or metal purchasing decisions and practices.


Last Updated: 11/08/2017
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