European Parliament Seeks To Ban 'Blood Metals' Through Surprise Vote

European Parliament Seeks to Ban 'Blood Metals' Through Surprise VoteThe European Parliament voted to ban all products containing conflict minerals, or "blood metals," on Wednesday in what is being considered a surprise vote.

The decision is aimed at completely eliminating materials from war-stricken countries in Africa from the European supply chain. In turn, that will keep corrupt leaders in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and other war zones from profiting from the sale of tungsten, tin, tantalum and gold.

The vote will make it mandatory for companies importing those metals for use in manufacturing consumer goods to certify their origin. The decision is being called a surprise largely because parliament was expected to put less harsh measures in place in a scenario similar to the US Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

As it is, it looks like the decision will affect many companies. According to the press release from the European Parliament, "downstream companies, that is, the 880 000 potentially affected EU firms that use tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold in manufacturing consumer products, will be obliged to provide information on the steps they take to identify and address risks in their supply chains for the minerals and metals concerned."

That said, the new regulations aren't quite ready to be put in place. Now that parliament has voted, the decision will be discussed with EU member states and the European Commission, and experts fear that EU governments will decide to block the tougher legislation on the basis that it could be considered an unrealistic burden for businesses. Interestingly, however, it seems that parliament has already taken such backlash into consideration — its press release "asks the Commission to grant financial support to micro-businesses and small and medium-sized firms wishing to obtain certification through the EU's COSME program."