On Tuesday, September 17th, EU Commissioner for Trade, Karel De Gucht, spoke at a Public Hearing of the Committee on Development in Brussels. He spoke about the role of extractive industries in developing countries in promoting development through responsible business practices. In that speech, de Gucht confirmed that the EU approach to conflict minerals is currently focused only on the 3TG minerals.

Similar to his speech of September 3rd to the Federation of German Industries, he said that the EU initiative on conflict minerals will focus on effectiveness, reduction of side-effects, and coordination with other initiatives.

De Gucht explained that the Commission is exploring ways to put commercial pressure on smelters to collect better information about their own supply chains and then to eliminate illegally traded minerals from conflict areas. The EU is working to create incentives for companies to work with primary mineral producers in conflict regions.

The Commissioner went on to say that efforts on conflict minerals cannot be limited to one region. He also indicated that the EU would hope to avoid some of the unintended consequences of the conflict minerals efforts, like the creation of de facto embargos of certain conflict regions.

The results of the public hearing will go into a report “Promoting development through responsible business practices, including the role of extractive industries in developing countries,” which is being written by Member of European Parliament Judith Sargtentini. This report is due to be released by the end of the year.  He said that this would coincide with the Commission’s expected proposal on conflict minerals.  However, we are now being told that the EU’s proposal is expected by the end of October.