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hc starck tantalum statement

  1. 743 Posts.
    Merry Christmas all Gippsters.
    I came accross the attached which hopefully bodes well for long term HCS-Gippsland tantalum offtake!!!
    Passive Component Magazine December 2009

    H.C. Starck outlines Supply Chain Management Strategy for Tantalum Ore.

    HC Starck GmbH, one of the world's largest processor of tantalum ore into engineered powders, wires, ingots and chemicals, addresses its process for maintaining a supply chain that is clean of conflict minerals and suggests it as a model for the industry. A spokesperson for HC Starck clarifies their position and goals for the future in this issue of PCI Magazine.

    Process control and illegally mined ores:

    According to HC Starck, there are possibilities to theoretically determine by chemical analysis from where an ore originates. The German BGR (federal institute for geo-sciences and raw materials) has developed such a system. The pre-requisite for its proper function is to have fingerprints from mines all over the world for comparison with samples of the ore you want to buy or sell. Coltan (Tantalum) from DRC (Congo) or other African states normally is collected by "comptoirs" and therefore a mixture from different sites. As legal and illegal sites are close to each other and work the same deposit, this chemical method would give identical "fingerprints" for both sources, therefore it is not conclusive. In addition the system is time consuming and expensive. Therefore the way to sort out illegally mined material must be determined in a more foolproof method of operation.

    Illegally mined ores may come into the legal supply chain by moving it to other countries and exporting. That is happening already for quite some time and can be derived from the obvious difference of import and export statistics for such countries as Rwanda. The official Rwanda export statistic reports an export of 242 tons of Coltan ore and concentrate in 2007, i.e. this would be the quantity Rwandan mines are able to produce. The Chinese import statistics show imports of such materials from Rwanda into China of about 1,400 tons. On the other hand the UN Panel just reported Coltan exports of 574 tons for the period January to September 2009 out of the Kivus, most likely via Rwanda. We believe it is necessary to shed light into this situation. The entire electronics industry, not only capacitor and semiconductor producers but also the end-consumer industry is highly alerted not to use parts or devices produced from illegally mined raw materials. This can be achieved by a gapless examination of the supply chain. Therefore we have introduced the HC Starck Responsible Supply Chain Management System (RSCM) in 2009.

    The HC Starck Responsible Supply Chain Management System (RSCM):

    It is based on examination of environmental and labour aspects as well as business ethics. All processes affecting our own and our business partners reputation are considered. This procedure is obligatory for all HC Starck suppliers. Due to the ethical problems related to the purchase of raw material an additional procedure is applied. In a first step our suppliers have to answer a self assessment questionnaire addressing questions to relevant topics such as working conditions, health and safety, environment, anti-corruption and other topics of public interest. If a supplier passes this test successfully he has to pass step 2 of the RSCM. In this second step the supplier has to pass a supplier audit with a more comprehensive questionnaire. This procedure assures that each supplier passing such an audit successfully will be a reliable partner and not source raw materials or other goods being not produced under the standards we have set. Audits are repeated on a regular basis. The RSCM procedure and the required records and documents are audited by an external certification company to assure that our target will be met. In the meantime we had all our raw material on stock audited by a third party, Bureau Veritas. All our raw materials are now certified - not to come from the DRC.

    RSCM as a possible tool for the global Tantalum producing industry:

    As soon as the RSCM System is certified we will suggest EICC to introduce this system as the standard for all suppliers of raw material to the electronic industry, especially tantalite or columbite for the capacitors industry. If all raw material suppliers for the tantalum consuming industry agree to be audited after such a standard procedure it is guaranteed worldwide that the capacitor industry is only supplied with products made from ethical mined raw materials. Tantalum raw material producers or dealers not accepting to be audited according to accepted procedure should not be taken into account to supply tantalum raw materials. By following such an example, an efficient and dependable supply chain can be managed and maintained.
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