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U.S. Law Forces Gadget Companies to Disclose Ties to Conflict Minerals

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Congo Mines
The violent conflict between governmental and rebel forces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo may not make the front pages of many Western news outlets, but it has definitely caught the attention of U.S. lawmakers. As the AP reports, a newly passed American law, which was signed into effect in conjunction with Obama's economic overhaul, will now require all gadget manufacturers to disclose whether or not their products contain minerals from mines in the Congo or surrounding countries. The Congolese economy may not be a juggernaut, but the central African country is home to deposits of industrial metals like tin, tantalum and tungsten, which can all be used to produce electronics. The only problem, though, is that many of these mines are controlled by the same militant rebels who have been using much of their industrial revenue to pursue their violent agenda. In theory, then, the law could go a long way in stopping that flow of revenue, and, eventually, crippling the rebel cause.

Some, however, are concerned that the move might deal an inadvertently harsh blow to the Democratic Republic's already fragile economy. "For many, many people, it's the only livelihood they have," argues Sara Greenen, a researcher at Antwerp University in Belgium. A YouTube video entitled 'I'm a Mac... and I've Got a Dirty Secret' claims that "a lot" of the global production of these electronics-friendly metals comes from the DRC. In reality, however, only a small percentage of the materials originate from the region. Still, many insist that the resource-based economy has grown to play a crucial role in the violence, even if the conflict didn't originally arise over the metals.

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SwitchedU.S. Law Forces Gadget Companies to Disclose Ties to Conflict Minerals originally appeared on Switched on Mon, 26 Jul 2010 16:16:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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