A letter signed by half a million people from 64 different countries was delivered to Nintendo offices Wednesday demanding that the company get the “blood” off its products.
Called “conflict minerals” or “blood minerals,” elements such as gold and the ores that make tungsten and tin are mined -- often at gunpoint -- by men, women and children in Congolese mines and used by most major electronics companies. Nintendo is one of the worst offenders, said Debrah Rosen, movement director at WalkFree.org.
“Blood diamonds” are the well-publicized face of the decades-long human rights challenge in Africa.
But a lesser-known group of natural resources known as “blood minerals” has fueled civil wars in Congo and Uganda and gone largely unheard in the U.S. -- even though you’re probably holding them in the palm of your hand. Read more
“There are minerals in gaming consoles, cell phones, computers, anything that has a microchip in it that come from the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” Rosen told FoxNews.com. “Those minerals, and control of the mines where those minerals are extracted, is what’s fueling the conflict in the Congo.”
“Children have died in these mines,” she told FoxNews.com.
“You have soldiers who are part of the group running the mine that are enslaving and raping women. The mines are very central to solving the slavery problem in the Congo,” she said.
A Nintendo spokesman told FoxNews.com the company takes the issue of conflict minerals seriously. Nintendo released the following statement in response to the WalkFree.org protest:
"We at Nintendo take our social responsibilities as a global company very seriously and expect our production partners to do the same. Nintendo bans the use of conflict minerals and we continue to work with our suppliers to ensure our ban is upheld."
Thanks to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which includes a conflict minerals provision, many companies have been forced into action on the issue. But despite strides made in recent years to audit the companies supplying those minerals, WalkFree.org remains convinced that Nintendo’s response has lagged behind.
“Intel is looking at conflict-free devices by end of year. HP Apple, Nokia, and many others have policies to source from conflict-free smelters. Many companies publish the number of smelters they use.”
'The mines are very central to solving the slavery problem in the Congo.'
- Debrah Rosen, movement director at WalkFree.org
“Nintendo does zero of that.”
When the Enough Project released a report last August placing Nintendo dead last in its corporate rankings on the issue. Nintendo told FoxNews.com that has been striving to make progress on the issue.
"Our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Procurement Guidelines prohibit our production partners from using conflict minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo and adjoining countries. Each of our lead production partners has a policy banning the use of conflict minerals," the company said in a statement.
"We ask our suppliers to disclose both their policy on conflict minerals and procedures used to trace materials in their supply chain."
That’s not going far enough, Rosen told FoxNews.com.
“What are the verification procedures for non-compliance? And why have they not joined the widely agreed conflict-free smelter program?” she said.
“When you ask those questions, that’s when they go silent,” she said.