Conflating a Conflict

Following up on Monday’s item, this kind of report is what scares me.

Companies failing to responsibly source minerals essential for manufacture of electronic goods

According to the slightly more responsible Globe and Mail, which has actually seen the unpublished report, its authors rapped the knuckles of several OEMs not for sourcing from the Congo but for failing to have (in its opinion) proper audit and traceability measures in place.

Putting aside for the moment that tin has no DNA, the eagerness with which media that is not well informed on the nuances might well jump to the conclusion that everyone and their dog is buying metal from the war-ravaged DRC. Comments from US Congressmen asserting that “everyone who has a cellphone has a piece of the action,” as just as ill-informed and damaging.

Given that the Congo supplies a minute amount of the world’s tin and other minerals used in electronics, the concerns, though well-intentioned, are overblown.

The Solder Products Value Council, ITRI and other trade groups should consider bringing this to the attention of legislators around the world.

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About Mike

Mike Buetow is president of the Printed Circuit Engineering Association ( He previously was editor-in-chief of Circuits Assembly magazine, the leading publication for electronics manufacturing, and PCD&F, the leading publication for printed circuit design and fabrication. He spent 21 years as vice president and editorial director of UP Media Group, for which he oversaw all editorial and production aspects. He has more than 30 years' experience in the electronics industry, including six years at IPC, an electronics trade association, at which he was a technical projects manager and communications director. He has also held editorial positions at SMT Magazine, community newspapers and in book publishing. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois. Follow Mike on Twitter: @mikebuetow