Material sourcing by other companies

For some electronics development I thought it would be fun/interesting/insightful to ask one of my parts suppliers how they source their materials.

Main reason for this is because this company makes some really really fancy tantalum capacitors - and the tantalum sourcing is one of the spearpoints of the FP2.

Reaction from this company was that they:

  • use a lot of recycled tantalum
  • use suppliers from all over the world
  • are fully aware of conflict mines and do all they can not to process these
  • are in compliance with OECD guidelines

Looks all fine and dandy to me, but would like to get your opinion on this;

  • Does this go far enough?
  • Should I ask this from every company?
  • Any other remarks?

I have no clue about this and I never learned a lot here. But do they/their suppliers get tantalum from certificated smelters? Maybe that would be helpful. I’m not sure how good these audits really are.

I think it would be quite interesting to know if any of the really big and influential phone companies set value of the material sourcing from the components of their devices.

They do. But nobody knows how much they really look into it or how they “value” it money-wise.

They normally don’t spend so much money to control the whole supply chain, but they write very nice CSR reports each year and do “audits” :slight_smile:. But nobody ever shows any prove. But I’ve seen certified smelter lists for Apple and Nikon as an example. And also Qualcomm and Intel look into their supply chains.

Yeah probably that’s the difference to Fairphone. Not if they do something, but what and how much they do. However, i am a bit surprised that even companies like Apple and Nikon use Elements from certified smelter. But as mentioned above, nobody can really know what exactly they do, because unfotunately they don’t have the transparency of Fairphone.

I think this is the big problem. Big companies avoid sourcing in the DRC region, which means the ordinary people living there loose their last way to make any money
Avoiding the conflict regions makes perfect sense for those companies, because they assure compliance with the US law and avoid public blame.

So you really need a small-scale not-for-(big-)profit company like FairPhone to really invest in research, tracking supplies etc. to get responsible resources from conflict regions. I am afraid it is not yet possible to get the big amounts of resources those companies need, without a big risk of smuggling and swindling…