HP Releases Supply Chain Smelter List in an Effort to Achieve a Conflict-free Supply Chain

Tony Prophet is Senior Vice President, Operations Printing and Personal Systems (PPS).

The IT industry, including HP, uses tantalum, tin, tungsten, and gold (3TG) to make electronics. These metals are created when raw minerals are processed in smelters around the world.

For more than a decade, the mining of minerals used to produce tantalum, tin, tungsten and gold (3TG) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been linked to the funding of armed groups waging civil war in the country. These metals are widely used in many industries and are commonly found in electronic products.

Yesterday, Hewlett-Packard released a list of 195 smelters identified in our supply chain. We are the first IT company to publish a supply chain smelter list. We are committed to a socially responsible supply chain and are leading the way toward achieving a conflict-mineral free supply chain. The list is another milestone in the multi-year effort by HP, and others, to reduce demand for illicit minerals that are fueling conflicts and thus to help stem the funding of conflict, particularly in the DRC.

We have partnered in this effort since 2007 with other companies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and government entities. We also helped launch the Electronics Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC) and Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) Extractives Work Group, which, in turn, established the Conflict-Free Smelter (CFS) Program in 2010. To date the combined initiatives have resulted in tools, programs and solutions which:

  • Provide traceability of raw ore to help ensure it is coming from legitimate sources in the DRC
  • Allow third party auditors to determine if smelters are conflict-free  through the Conflict Free Smelter (CFS) Program
  • Enabled HP to survey our multi-tiered supply chain to document which smelters we actually rely upon

What can these initiatives do to help the citizens in this war-torn region?

Some of the mines in the DRC fund violence, but some do not. Conflict-free mines rely on the support of responsible companies to provide better lives for their workers and communities. HP believes in doing its part and that working towards responsible sourcing is a matter of corporate social responsibility. Our journey toward a conflict-mineral free supply chain is sending a clear message that supply chain spending should be directed toward responsible sourcing.

The efforts to date are significant and unprecedented, but the situation in conflict regions is complex and difficult. We’ve made progress, but there’s still much to accomplish and we cannot solve it alone. We are publically encouraging the industry to become conflict-mineral free. With rigorous ethical standards and supply chain transparency across the industry, we can have meaningful impact on lives and communities in the DRC.