2 December 2015

Africa: Global Witness Welcomes Progressive New Chinese Mineral Supply Chain Guidelines

press release

New Chinese industry guidelines for carrying out mineral supply chain checks can play a vital part in efforts to address resource-linked conflict and human rights abuses around the world, says Global Witness.

The guidelines, launched today in Beijing, set a precedent for Chinese companies to recognise and reduce supply chain risks, bringing benefit to communities impacted by mining as well as companies themselves.

The guidelines send a promising message that Chinese companies have individual responsibility to reduce harmful impacts along their supply chains and demonstrate the intention of the Chinese mineral trading sector to act responsibly on the international stage - Lizzie Parsons, China Programme Leader for Global Witness.

"These guidelines shouldn't be seen as a burden for companies but rather an opportunity to learn more about their supply chains, address what is going on along them and consequently reduce their legal and reputational risks. Critically, due diligence is not about pulling out of high risk mining areas, but staying in place and engaging responsibly," says Parsons.

The Chinese Due Diligence Guidelines for Responsible Mineral Supply Chains have been launched by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Metals, Minerals and Chemicals Importers and Exporters, CCCMC, which is supervised by the Ministry of Commerce. The guidelines were drafted in association with international and Chinese partners, including Global Witness and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, following a public consultation and year-long drafting process.

Key elements of the guidelines include:

  • A 5-step risk-based supply chain check process for minerals, reflecting Due Diligence Guidance developed by the OECD and recognised as international best practice. This reflects companies' individual responsibility to carry out their supply chain due diligence, conduct a third party audit of the process, and publish their related policies and practices.
  • Checks for risks of contributing to conflict and serious human rights abuses, reflecting the OECD Guidance, and risks associated with other serious misconduct, reflecting CCCMC's 2014 Guidelines for Social Responsibility in Outbound Mining Investments.
  • Applicability to all Chinese companies who are extracting or using minerals and mineral products at any point in the supply chain.
  • Applicability to all mineral resources, with an initial focus on gold, tin, tungsten and tantalum.
  • Not specific to particular country or region.

Global Witness has previously documented links between Chinese companies and mineral supply chains originating in conflict-affected and high-risk areas, with first-hand research from the Democratic Republic of Congo showing how both local communities and Chinese companies can consequently be at risk.

To mark the launch of the guidelines, Global Witness has today published a new photo essay, 'Miners' Voices: Mining for our minerals' which documents the stories of men and women working in Congolese mines to supply international, including Chinese, companies with tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold.

"CCCMC are to be congratulated for this important step in contributing to stability and development in some of the world's most fragile places," said Parsons. "What is crucial now is the swift completion of necessary mineral-specific supplements and for Chinese companies to then prioritise implementation."


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