New Motorola Program Targets Conflict-Free Mineral from Congo for Electronics (7/7/11)
Thursday, July 07, 2011 | Comments

Motorola Solutions launched Solutions for Hope Project, a pilot initiative to source conflict-free tantalum from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to be used in Motorola Solutions products. Tantalum is a mineral used in capacitors for electronic products and is derived from the mineral coltan, which is in rich supply in the DRC.

New legislation will require U.S. companies to disclose the use of certain minerals, including tantalum, in their products and to describe the process used to ensure the purchase of these minerals does not fund the illegally armed groups operating in the DRC.

No recognized system exits to verify that the sources of minerals from the DRC are conflict free, so efforts to secure supply chains have led to a de facto embargo of minerals from the region while such systems are being developed. Tens of thousands of people in the DRC depend on artisanal mining, many operating in regions without conflict. Their livelihoods and the economic stability of the region have been threatened by the ban, a Motorola statement said.

With the Solutions for Hope Project, Motorola Solutions and a leading tantalum capacitor supplier have worked with a defined set of key suppliers to create a closed-pipe supply line, with all suppliers - mine, exporter, processor, component manufacturer and end user - identified in advance. Tantalum will begin flowing though the system created by the Solutions for Hope Project by the end of July.

The pilot supports and is supported by the development and implementation of several additional initiatives already under way to establish a conflict-free infrastructure in the DRC, converging through the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), the statement said. The project will create an initial flow of tantalum that will help enable miners to work and conflict-free systems to be developed in the DRC.

An independent auditor will validate the project so it can be used by other companies to demonstrate a responsible supply chain while continuing to use DRC-mined minerals. Motorola Solutions and its partner will work with stakeholders to evaluate the pilot so that lessons can be embedded in other initiatives and the program can be improved and expanded.

"We have helped to create this supply line to demonstrate that the DRC can and should remain a viable source of conflict-free minerals," said Rich Valin, corporate vice president, chief procurement officer, Motorola Solutions. "This tightly controlled supply line will ensure conflict-free tantalum for these capacitors and allow time for a much-needed conflict-free verification system to develop in the DRC."

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