EU Responsible Minerals Regulation: Impact on 3TG Minerals & Supply Chain Compliance

Macro picture of a raw golden nugget found on a mine

EU Responsible Minerals Regulation

The term “conflict mineral” describes minerals extracted by forced labor to fund armed groups. The minerals of concern are known as the 3TG: Tantalum, Tungsten, Tin, and Gold.  

On January 1st, 2021, the EU Conflict Minerals Regulation came into force. The aim of this regulation is to stem the trade of minerals produced through such exploitative methods, as they are found in many goods used by EU consumers, such as mobile phones, cars, and jewelry.

The scope of the legislation is smelters, EU manufacturers, ESG-conscious companies and any entity utilising 3TG minerals. It regulates all high-risk producing areas, currently numbering 27.

Responsible sourcing of these minerals has been legally addressed since the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010. While similar to the ECMR, the Dodd-Frank Act is mainly concerned with minerals from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The scope of Dodd-Frank includes suppliers to public companies, ESG-conscious companies, and any entity utilising 3TG minerals.

Since 2010, this issue has also been addressed through the OECD Due Diligence Guidelines (2011), the EU Responsible Minerals Regulation (2017), the London Metal Exchange regulations (2019), and now the EU Due Diligence Directive, the CSDDD. Other relevant regulations include the German Supply Chain Due Diligence Law, the Swiss Code of Obligations on Due Diligence and Child Labor, the UK Modern Slavery Act and Bribery and Corruption Act, the Japan Human Rights Guidelines, and South Korea’s mandatory Due Diligence for government-sponsored projects in the CAHRAs (Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas).

The aim of the Responsible Minerals Regulation is to stop:

Additionally, the law supports the development of local communities.

This regulation requires EU companies to ensure they import minerals and metals from responsible sources only.

Typical challenges in sourcing include an either/or approach, making it difficult to find conflict-free sources of these minerals. Therefore, reliance must be on responsible sourcing. Challenges can arise from over-reliance on conformant lists, interpretations of due diligence, transparency and quality of audits, and communication gaps between upstream and downstream supply chain tiers. Emphasis must be placed on practical on-the-ground work and responsible development of sourcing, not just maintaining a perfect paper trail.

For more details, refer to the legal texts:  

The latest list of Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas (CAHRA) under the Minerals legislation:

For FAQs on the Regulation on Conflict Minerals:  

A good source of information on how to approach the act is the European Partnership for Responsible Minerals (EPRM). The EPRM includes members from supply chain actors, civil society, and governments:  

May 2024
Energy industry