It seems that the raw materials for modern electronics are never far from the headlines - and the news is hardly ever good. The last few months have seen a surge in reports about the global supply of rare-earth metals like neodymium and dysprosium, which are critical for wind turbines, lithium batteries and modern circuitry. China's control of the market is seen as particularly worrying, especially given the recent spat with Japan which saw China denying its neighbor access to its exports for a period of time.
This week, the Enough Project raised a different concern, one which has also flirted with headlines. Congo, one of the world's most dangerous and war-ravaged nations, is a primary supplier of key metals like tin, tungsten, tantalum (the "3 T's") and gold. These materials are key to the manufacture of consumer electronics like the Sony ( SNE ) Playstation 3, the Apple ( AAPL ) iPhone and the Motorola ( MOT ) Droid.
The Enough Project's report is designed to highlight those companies that have done the most to ensure ethical sourcing of the minerals, buying from reputable suppliers rather than those with ties to violent militias and criminal networks. It responds to what the group calls a growing consumer concern about the impact of modern consumption patterns in a globalized economy.
"A major part of the solution will be driven down through the supply chain by responsible corporations making choices about the steps they can take with the suppliers with whom they choose to do business," the organization said.
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