Compliance with federal law and a new SEC rule regarding the sourcing of so-called conflict minerals — Tungsten, Tin, Tantalum and Gold from the Eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and surrounding regions — remains challenging. For U.S. manufacturers to navigate and properly follow the new guidelines is just one piece of the puzzle.
A just-released Government Accounting Office (GAO) study analyzes some of the supply chain challenges, including in the African region itself, and has found that in spite of some progress largely through greater visibility and awareness, a “lack of security, lack of infrastructure, and capacity constraints could undermine companies’ abilities to ensure conflict-free minerals sourcing.”
A possible, albeit partial solution that would allow for the sourcing of conflict free minerals (as the U.S. does not have any Tin deposits), might lie the development of at least Tantalum and Tungsten deposits in the United States. Considering the fact that among the 25 leading mining nations, the U.S. has dubious honor of being tied for last place with Papua New Guinea for permitting delays in Behre Dolbear’s latest Where Not to Invest report, this possible solution will not be able to help manufacturers in the short-term.
Nonetheless, it would be a good reason for policy makers to start thinking strategically about critical minerals, and prioritize removing obstacles to harnessing our vast domestic – and conflict-free- mineral potential.