Another victory against the use of conflict minerals

MEP Alyn Smith has welcomed the European Parliament’s formal approval of a regulation to stop the trade of conflict minerals.

The new rules will apply from 2021 and will ensure more than 95% of EU importers of tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold (also known as 3TG) carry out detailed background checks on their suppliers to ensure there are no links to armed conflicts or human rights abuse. 

Alyn, who has long been campaigning against the use of conflict minerals, said:

“Like conflict diamonds, conflict minerals are sourced through opaque or illegal practices in unstable areas of the world. In areas such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold are sourced in conditions of extreme exploitation, violence and slavery but used in everyday items such as mobile phones and digital cameras. 

“Campaigners have publicised disturbing cases of modern slavery, physical and sexual abuses on mine workers, dire working conditions and conflict over the control of such strategic mines.

“It is claimed 75 per cent of the funding that sustains armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo comes from mining revenue. Meanwhile, the International Peace Information Service, reports that armed groups are present at more than half of all mining sites in the DRC. The local population is illegally coerced into working in the mines, and controlled by rape and violence.

“These new rules are going to prove crucial in eradicating this form of modern-day slavery. 

 “By working within the EU, Scotland is part of something that we couldn’t have achieved on our own. Thousands of constituents contacted me to ask that I represent them by taking a stand against conflict minerals, and this is a significant move in eradicating modern-day slavery. Both the European Parliament and the UK Government agreed to apply this new rule, so here’s hoping Brexit won’t wipe out our efforts.”

Small importers such as jewellers and dentists will be exempt from the new rules.  

The new rules will apply from 2021. Until then, importers should implement the necessary control structures across the EU. The law will apply to companies or mineral smelters that run their business in the EU.

The conflict minerals law was approved yesterday (Thursday) by 558 votes to 17 with 45 abstentions. 

The regulation gives enough leeway for the European Commission to further elaborate, alongside the EU Member States, new ways to improve the reporting mechanisms. Such reporting was optional before last year. (

The final text as adopted by the European Parliament can be read here: