AMSTERDAM -- Next week, a group of non-governmental organizations in conjunction with the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs is set to discuss labor rights related to mining in third-world nations.

The GoodElectronics Network is joining with SOMO, Friends of the Earth/Milieudefensie and the Stop Child Labour Coalition to formulate concrete steps toward responsible sourcing of minerals. The NGOs will hold hold a roundtable meeting on what the entities are calling "Responsible Mining for Electronics." The meeting, hosted by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, will gather experts to highlight problems associated with the mining of cobalt in Democratic Republic of Congo, tin in Indonesia and gold in Mali. Representatives from the electronics industry, civil society organizations, experts and policymakers will discuss current and future initiatives on responsible sourcing of minerals.

More than 300 metals are used in electronics products, and those such as gold, coltan, cobalt, tin and copper all have different applications. Mining of these minerals has been tied to human rights and labor rights violations, not to mention social and environmental risks. NGOs and federal governments have held up mining as a source of draconian abuse, where children are forced to work in the mines to help finance wars in Africa. The US Dodd-Frank law, for example, includes provisions requiring annual disclosures of any conflict minerals used in electronics products originated in the DRC or an adjoining countries.

Speaking on behalf of the NGOs, GoodElectronics Network coordinator Pauline Overeem said, “We are looking forward to frank and fruitful discussions and to carve out concrete paths for action towards responsible mining of minerals beyond the narrow scope of the so-called 3TG [tungsten, tin, tantalum and gold] minerals. GoodElectronics is pushing for a progressive and groundbreaking interpretation of corporate accountability, due diligence and supply chain transparency. While the current initiatives in this field, whether corporate, multistakeholder, or legal, may all have their merit, it is clear that they are far from sufficient. Mining for electronics today still causes human misery and that needs to be addressed.”

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