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EU Mineral Sourcing Initiative Requires Industry Attention

Jun 14, 2013 1:15 PM   By Assay Office
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RAPAPORT... Press Release: The Birmingham Assay Office issued the following statement:

The EU Commission is running a public consultation on so-called “conflict minerals” until June 26, 2013. The Commission will use the results to help it decide whether or not to introduce legislation in relation to the responsible sourcing of minerals from, for example, war zones, post-war zones, and areas vulnerable to political instability or civil unrest.

This is an important and significant issue for the fine- and fashion-jewelry industry, watches and fashion accessories.

Does the U.K. jewelry industry want an EU legislative regulation (a law) that might be a sort of version of the U.S.'s  ''Dodd Frank Act'' (that covers gold, tin, tungsten and tantalum originating from the Democratic Republic of the Congo or an adjoining country)? The EU consultation does not specify which geographical areas or particular minerals might be included. It could conceivably include diamonds and gemstones

Alternatively, would the trade prefer to adopt the ''UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights'' and have a voluntary code more along the lines of the ''OECD Due Diligence Guidance'' or the ''Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative''?

On one hand, the collapse of the clothing factory building in Bangladesh suggests that voluntary codes of practice in relation to due diligence through the supply chain don’t work.

On the other hand, the Dodd Frank Act  has triggered the law of unintended consequences, such that it has become so bureaucratic and onerous for legitimate suppliers to obtain gold, tin, tungsten and tantalum from the DRC and surrounding countries that they have abandoned sourcing from that area altogether, leading to a collapse in legitimate trade. This has inevitably been replaced by criminal activity and illegitimate trade to the detriment of the artisanal mining community and the countries as a whole.

Whether there is a law or voluntary code, we must make sure we choose our words carefully to ensure that gold does not get labeled generally as a “conflict mineral” instead of as “a legitimately sourced mineral from a conflict-affected area” which it may sometimes be.

Please make sure you have your say by answering the questionnaire by June 26.
Click here to view the consultation document

Michael Allchin
Chief Executive and Assay Master
The Birmingham Assay Office

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Tags: assay office, conflict minerals, EU, legislation, public feedback
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