Canada's New Democrats propose law on conflict minerals

Canada's national New Democratic Party re-introduces Tuesday a federal bill to establish laws restricting Canadian companies from buying conflict minerals, reports the Globe and Mail.

The proposed legislation aims to keep these metal ores — gold, cassiterite, wolframite, columbite-tantalite and their elements — out of corporate supply chains and, ultimately, from being used in consumer electronics.

Illegal trade in such minerals is funding ongoing conflicts, especially in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, located in central Africa, where millions of people have died and there are widespread human rights abuses.

The DRC army or rebel militias control small-scale mining operations and their products are illegally trafficked over the borders, eventually making their way into official trade channels.

If the bill was passed, companies and their subsidiaries working in Canada would have to file an annual, audited review of their supply chain practices with the federal government which would then make the statements publicly available. The legislation also provides a method for sourcing minerals responsibly from conflict-torn areas.

NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar first proposed the bill in the fall of 2010 but it fell off the agenda after the first reading when the federal election was called.

The federal bill is based on guidelines from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Related: Rebel attack in Congolese mining hub

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