Congo Tucked Into Depths of Financial Reform Bill

Provision targets conflict minerals...used in your cell phone
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 21, 2010 11:36 AM CDT
In this April 10, 2004 file photo, a young man carries wet Cobalt on his back at the Shinkolobwe Cobalt mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo.   (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam, File)
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(Newser) – Hidden in the recesses of the financial reform bill is a provision that could rock the US electronics industry. From now on, companies will be required to disclose what steps they’re taking to ensure their products—think cellphones, laptops, and medical devices—don’t contain minerals from the Congo, the Washington Post reports. Demand for the Congo’s abundant mineral wealth has fueled a 15-year civil war, and with it a horrific rape epidemic.

“This is one of those issues that is below the radar for about 99.9% of Americans,” said one Democratic Rep. “Everyone has their cellphone up against their ear, nobody is thinking of Congo.” The provision, which enjoys bipartisan support, was barely mentioned during the debate on the bill. The law doesn't just apply to the use of Congolese tantalum, either; many manufacturers also use tin or gold from the country. The law, which is the first of its kind in the world, "is going to affect virtually the entire US manufacturing sector,” said one IT industry group.

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