What are Conflict Minerals?

While definitions vary between countries and associated legislation, conflict minerals are generally understood to include:

  • columbite-tantalite, also known as coltan (the metal ore from which tantalum is extracted);
  • cassiterite (the metal ore from which tin is extracted);
  • wolframite (the metal ore from which tungsten is extracted);
  • gold; or their derivatives

These minerals are believed to be financing conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) or an adjoining country.

Due to the complexity of tracking and identifying ores and derivatives, Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act only deals with the four principal metals (also known as 3TGs) derived from the aforementioned ores.

It is important to note, however, that the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) does not restrict the definition of conflict minerals to 3TGs sourced from the DRC, but rather includes minerals from conflict-affected and high-risk areas more broadly.

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