Many geopolitical experts believe that in the future, conflicts may arise specifically over access to raw materials. For this reason, the Group accepts its responsibility with respect to the integrity of our sources of supply.
We carefully monitor current events in countries that are extremely unstable from a political or an economic perspective. Disruptions in the supply chain could arise in these regions and compromise the availability of fundamental raw materials that are difficult to replace. Conflict minerals are one example of such materials and include tantalum, tin, tungsten and gold. These minerals may be mined to fund armed conflicts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo under conditions that do not respect human rights. In addition, Rare Earths Elements (REE) are increasingly difficult to find due to China’s monopoly over their production.
Given that careful management of the supply chain is essential to the promotion of responsible sourcing practices, during the year the Group offered its suppliers the support needed to understand and comply with current legislation on conflict minerals and to use the tools implemented for tracing their origin. Moreover, in order to lay the basis for an effective collaboration between the EMEA and NAFTA regions, a working group was formed. Specialists from Purchasing management, the Legal Office and Group Materials Labs have been an integral and contributive part of this team.
The Group also continued updating the map of applications that call for raw materials and noble metals whose availability may become critical in the coming years, thus posing a threat to sourcing stability for the industry. In fact, the objective is to develop alternative solutions, including evaluating opportunities to recycle or reuse these materials in collaboration with other industry sectors.