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Is your new mobile phone made with conflict minerals?

Enough Project names 21 companies that use minerals at the heart of the Congo conflict.

Among those feeding Congo’s instability is the country’s own army, according to a recent report by the U.N. Group of Experts, a panel established to investigate infringements on the arms embargo imposed in the east.

Congolese minerals are smuggled out of Congo through its neighbors — Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda — and on across the Indian Ocean to metal smelting companies in China, India, Malaysia and Thailand where the illicit minerals are mixed with legal ones from around the world.

Enough’s stated aim is to “have companies at the top of the minerals supply chain use their buying power to influence their suppliers, exerting pressure down the supply chain, a model of change that has had success in the apparel, forestry and diamond sectors.”

To encourage electronics companies to analyze their own supply chains and stop fueling the fighting in eastern Congo, Enough has produced a league table that names and shames those making the least progress while congratulating those making the most efforts.

Some of the companies, such as Intel, Motorola and HP, have visited their suppliers to check the provenance of the tantalum used in their products, according to the Enough Project. HP, Microsoft, Apple, Nokia, Acer and Intel have all investigated their supply chains and indentified the individual smelters where raw minerals are processed.

“These companies prove that progress is achievable,” the report states. Enough argues that the progress made shows that supply chains are not so complex as to make it impossible to trace minerals to exact mines in precise locations.

The Enough report makes it clear that while some companies are making progress, more must be done if Western consumers want to be sure that the Christmas presents beneath their trees are not contributing directly to the ongoing misery in eastern Congo.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/africa/101214/mobile-phones-iphone-congo-war-conflict-minerals