The exploitation of natural resources plays a key part in many of the world’s worst environmental issues and human rights abuses. Many of the world’s supply of rare earth minerals (e.g. Tin; Tungsten; Tantalum and Gold (3TG’s), essential in the manufacture of technology, come from conflict regions like the DRC – where there have been an estimated 5.4 million deaths since 2008, as the supply is controlled by militia.
Taking Tantalum (as one element) – anti corrosive; capable of holding a very high electrical charge; in a very small space; it is super conductive and used to create transistors on electrical circuit boards. It is rare and in very high demand. Which will magnify due to the compounding problem of global population increasing, along with a swelling middle class with a greater disposable income.
It’s a complex problem that government and manufacturers are trying to address through various positive initiatives like the Dodd-Frank Reform however, where there is demand, there will be supply and it is a big challenge to provide a 100% guarantee that conflict minerals are not in a supply stream – where there are a raft of middle men to satisfy.
Corporate leaders can take the lead by implementing IT strategies to reduce their call on the supply of conflict and rare earth minerals by implementing a Circular strategy. Why remake what is already made?