148706 - Developing Countries: Minerals (Answered)

Mrs Anne Main
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to help prevent the mining and trading of conflict minerals overseas.

Mark Field

The UK does not regard the mining and trading of 3TG (tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold, also known as "conflict minerals") as problematic in itself. These minerals are key components for modern technology. Under the right conditions, the mining of these minerals can build both prosperity and security for local communities. However, there is also a risk that their mining can be linked to a range of deplorable practices from human rights abuses to illicit financing of conflict.

It is these risks that the UK is committed to addressing by encouraging compliance with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Mineral Supply Chains from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas. The implementation of this guidance will be made mandatory for the biggest importers in the EU via the EU Regulation on the Responsible Sourcing of Conflict Minerals. This will come into force in January 2021.

The UK will continue to implement this regulation after leaving the EU as it will be rolled over into UK Law via the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill. The Department for Buiness Energy and Industrial Strategy will act as the UK's Competent Authority, monitoring the implementation of the regulation in the UK.

In addition to direct action via the EU Regulation, the UK supports the European Partnership for Responsible Minerals (EPRM). This is a multi-stakeholder initiative consisting of governments, civil society and the private sector that is recognised by the EU as an official "accompanying measure" to the EU Regulation. The EPRM aims to increase the proportion of "responsibly sourced minerals" by operating along the full length of the supply chain, from building capability to implement the EU Regulation amongst EU business, to providing funding for projects aimed at improving conditions and building capability at minesites to enable them operate in a way consistent with OECD Due Diligence Guidelines. Further detail is available at https://europeanpartnership-responsibleminerals.eu/.