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By Bengt Ljung
June 15 — The EU has agreed on a plan to restrict the import of so-called conflict minerals, requiring smelters and importers of raw materials to be able to trace the origin of four minerals.
“Many long hours of work have paid off. We now agree to put ambitious rules in place against conflict minerals to root out this bloody trade,” EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem said in a tweet in the late evening of June 15.
She participated in talks in Brussels with negotiators from the European Parliament and the 28 EU countries to agree on a final compromise.
Conflict minerals are often extracted from illegal mines to finance armed bands in conflict areas where human rights abuses are rife.
The four minerals concerned are gold, tin, tantalum and tungsten, all key components in everyday electronic products such as mobile phones and laptops, as well as cars, light bulbs and jewelry.
The EU legislation is based on the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's due diligence guidance for responsible supply chains of minerals from conflict-affected and high-risk areas.
Smelters and importers of raw materials of a certain size are included, covering about 95 percent of imports, Parliament sources said. Small and medium-sized companies are excluded, on the other hand.
The EU countries initially argued for a voluntary, self-certification system, but the European Parliament pushed through a mandatory system for smelters and importers.
Agreement was reached at the fourth trialogue negotiating meeting, the most recent on May 11.
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