The Enough Project commends Maryland for passing a law to curb the global trade in conflict minerals from eastern Congo which fuel ongoing mass atrocities there.
Maryland governor Martin O’Malley signed the bill into law Thursday. The law requires Maryland to not do business with companies that fail to comply with the federal law on conflict minerals, passed in 2010 as part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act. A provision in this federal financial reform legislation requires companies to disclose whether they source minerals from DR Congo or its neighbors and to exercise due diligence on their supply chains to determine if their products are not fueling deadly conflict in the central African country.
The state law adds a powerful incentive for companies to comply with federal law by denying them procurement contracts with the state of Maryland.
Tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold, all minerals found in consumer electronics, are mined in eastern Congo, where a decade-and-a-half of conflict has resulted in more than 5 million deaths. Armed groups that commit mass rapes and other atrocities make millions of dollars from the minerals trade and control most of the mining operations in a mafia-like cartel.
The Maryland legislation is the second state to deal with Congo conflict minerals after California passed a similar law last year. Similar legislation is also under consideration in Massachusetts. Dozens of college campuses and local governments have passed resolutions pledging to buy only conflict-free products. In June 2010, Stanford University became the first campus in the nation to adopt a policy combating the trade in conflict minerals from Congo.