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Document 32017R0821

Responsible trade in minerals from high-risk or conflict areas

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Responsible trade in minerals from high-risk or conflict areas

 

SUMMARY OF:

Regulation (EU) 2017/821 on the obligations of importers of tin, tantalum and tungsten, their ores, and gold from conflict-affected and high-risk areas

WHAT IS THE AIM OF THE REGULATION?

The EU regulation aims to:

  • ensure that EU importers of tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold (3TG) meet international responsible sourcing standards set by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD);
  • ensure that global and EU smelters and refiners* source 3TG responsibly;
  • help break the link between conflict and the illegal exploitation of minerals;
  • help put an end to the exploitation and abuse of local communities, including mine workers, and support local development.

KEY POINTS

In politically unstable areas, trade in minerals such as tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold can be used to finance armed groups, lead to forced labour and other human rights abuses, and support corruption and money laundering.

These so-called conflict minerals are then used in everyday products, such as mobile phones and cars, or in jewellery.

Due diligence

The term due diligence means acting with reasonable care and investigating an issue before making a decision. It is an ongoing, proactive and reactive process by which companies put in place systems and processes to identify, manage and report on risks in their supply chain.

For the minerals which the regulation covers, it means companies must check that what they buy is sourced responsibly and does not contribute to conflict or other related illegal activities.

Companies that practise due diligence first check how risky it is to source raw materials from a fragile or conflict-affected area. They assess the likelihood that those raw materials could be financing conflict, forced labour or other risks set out in the regulation. By checking their supply chains, they can then make sure that they manage those risks responsibly.

The regulation builds on the 2011 OECD Due Diligence Guidance, which sets the international benchmark for supply chain due diligence, and the joint communication ‘Responsible sourcing of minerals originating in conflict-affected and high-risk areas: Towards an integrated EU approach’ of 2014.

Under the regulation, EU importers of minerals must:

  • identify and assess the risks in their mineral supply chain;
  • implement a strategy to respond to these risks;
  • carry out an independent third-party audit of supply chain due diligence;
  • report annually on their policies and practices for responsible sourcing.

The competent authorities of the EU countries must carry out checks to ensure that EU importers of minerals and metals comply with their due diligence obligations.

Supply chain due diligence schemes

Governments, industry associations and groups of interested organisations with due diligence schemes in place may apply to have their scheme recognised by the European Commission as complying with the regulation.

The Commission is to establish a register of recognised supply chain due diligence schemes, publicly available on the internet, and a list of global responsible smelters and refiners.

Guidelines

In consultation with the European External Action Service and the OECD, the Commission will prepare a handbook for businesses, with information on identifying conflict-affected and high-risk areas.

Review

By 1 January 2023 and every 3 years thereafter, the Commission is to review the operation and effectiveness of the new system, and its impact, and propose new measures in order to ensure a continuing responsible global supply chain of minerals.

FROM WHEN DOES THIS REGULATION APPLY?

EU importers will have to comply with the obligations set out by the regulation as from 1 January 2021, but the European Commission encourages all companies which the regulation covers to start carrying out due diligence before this date.

BACKGROUND

For more information, see:

KEY TERMS

Smelters and refiners: individuals or businesses performing forms of extractive metallurgy involving processing steps with the aim of producing a metal from a mineral.

MAIN DOCUMENT

Regulation (EU) 2017/821 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 May 2017 laying down supply chain due diligence obligations for Union importers of tin, tantalum and tungsten, their ores, and gold originating from conflict-affected and high-risk areas (OJ L 130, 19.5.2017, pp. 1-20)

RELATED DOCUMENTS

Joint communication to the European Parliament and the Council — Responsible sourcing of minerals originating in conflict-affected and high-risk areas: Towards an integrated EU approach (JOIN(2014) 8 final, 5.3.2014)

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council — The raw materials initiative: meeting our critical needs for growth and jobs in Europe (COM(2008) 699 final, 4.11.2008)

last update 07.12.2017

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