Coltan Companies Costa Rica
    Compliant with EICC GeSi requirements.
    All raw material sourcing from Green Zones.
    Free of conflict and human rights abuses.

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Choosing a Responsible Tantalum Supplier


Controversy is nothing new to mining. Whether it is for ores, minerals or gemstones, the history of mining is full of controversial practices. Unfortunately, tantalum hasn't escaped this controversy. Unethical methods, harmful environmental practices and flat-out dangerous conditions have given suppliers a bad name. Yet, demand for tantalum and its by-products remains high.

However, times are changing and there's good news to report. As word of these harmful practices spreads, more and more buyers are demanding ethically sourced minerals. These demands are being met by a growing number of companies that are stepping up and enacting practices that make it safer for miners to source the material, pay their workers fair wages, eliminate child labor and conduct their operations in an environmentally responsible manner.

The Supplier's Impact on Working Conditions and Business Practices

The supplier you choose has a huge impact on mining conditions. If suppliers demand ethically sourced tantalum, mining companies will lose their business if they don't comply. Some end-product manufacturers that use tantalum now even require their mineral supplies to be conflict-free.

As a way to encourage responsible mining, the United States passed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in 2010. This act requires mining companies to disclose to the SEC whether their products contain conflict minerals, particularly those mined in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). However, even though companies are required to provide this information, they are not prohibited from using conflict minerals.

Sources Outside of Africa

In order to avoid purchasing tantalum from conflict zones, more and more suppliers are finding sources elsewhere. Suppliers are now sourcing the mineral from South America and Australia in order to avoid the problematic zones in Africa. These sources have demonstrated a commitment to safe, ethical and clean practices.

Choosing a Conflict-Free Tantalum Supplier

Choosing a supplier who has a demonstrated commitment to conflict-free practices and products isn't as hard as you might think. Many of these companies are all too happy to share the fact that their products are conflict-free. Here are a few things to look for to determine if your supplier is committed to responsible mining practices:

  • Enforcement of a conflict-free policy. This will be a public statement that the company is committed to safe working conditions for both their employees and the employees of their suppliers. There will also be a statement of the company's environmentally responsible mining practices.
  • Membership and/or participation in organizations and agencies that are committed to the elimination of unethical tantalum mining practices such as: the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) or the International Tin Research Institute (ITRI).
  • Compliance with the Dodd-Frank Act.
  • Compliance with the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains requirements.
  • Disclosure of the source of their products. Sources from Latin America and Australia are known to comply with all laws and human rights protections.

Ultimately, whether conflict-free tantalum mining continues or fails depends on the consumer. Only by demanding clean and ethical tantalum can we help ensure that the miners are treated and paid fairly and have safe working conditions.