1602 Working Group News on Natural Resources - February 2016


  1.        EU Parliament and Council Remain Divided over Conflict Mineral Law

On 20 May 2015 the EU Parliament had voted for a strict regulation concerning the conflict minerals law. This vote advocated mandatory requirements throughout the whole supply chain of products containing minerals from conflicted areas. This decision was applauded by many NGOs and civil society organisations, including AEFJN {LINK}. However, since then no progress has been made in the further negotiations with the Council. The member states broadly support a non-binding system that would only be applicable to EU importers. This position is even weaker than the initial proposal of the Commission that, although also voluntary, includes smelters and refiners of minerals in the scheme. The Councils position fails to ensure real change in business practices and corporate social responsibility.


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      2.       Amnesty International and Afrewatch link Smartphone Batteries to Child Labour

Amnesty International and Afrewatch revealed a new report in which they directly link the batteries in smartphones to human rights violations in DRC cobalt mines. Major electronic brands, including Apple, Samsung, Microsoft and Sony fail to ensure fair products by not tracking their supply chain. The cobalt is being extracted from mines in the DRC from children as young as seven years old, and where miners work in precarious conditions, then the cobalt is sold to battery component manufacturers in China and South Korea and then to the electronic companies, before being available on the EU market.


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       3.       Oil Giants get Enormous Tax Breaks in Nigeria

A report from SOMO and ActionAid concludes that three oil companies: Shell, Eni and Total, have received $3.3 billion in tax breaks since 1999. This budget is comparable to two times the annual health care budget for Nigeria. The three oil giants, with Dutch, French, British and Italian roots all are related to NLNG, the largest gas extraction project in Nigeria. Worrisome is the fact that currently a new law is being drafted that would give even more foreign companies tax breaks for a period of ten years.


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