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Nintendo makes progress on conflict minerals sourcing

72% of smelters and refiners in Mario maker's supply chain certified as not funding crimes against humanity

The last year saw Nintendo make some modest progress in its efforts to ensure its hardware and amiibos aren't funding war crimes. The company has updated its Corporate Social Responsibility Report, revealing that 72% of its supply chain is certified conflict-free by the Conflict-Free Sourcing Initiative, and another 7% are going through the audit process to become certified.

The numbers came from surveys that Nintendo sent all its production partners, inquiring as to each partner's sources for gold, tantalum, tungsten, and tin. That grouping, collectively called conflict minerals or 3TGs, can be sourced from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its adjacent countries, where dozens of armed groups rely on them to finance their activities, including the recruiting and use of child soldiers, kidnappings, mass rape, murder, and sexual slavery.

The good news is that just like last year, all of Nintendo's partners actually responded to the surveys. While one might expect that to be a given, it's not always the case. (For example, Disney's most recent disclosure said the company sent surveys to 1,320 suppliers of retail merchandise, but only 54% of them bothered responding.)

Nintendo's partners collectively identified 309 smelters and refiners around the world that provided them with 3TGs. The CFSI could only confirm 294 of them as actual smelters or refiners, and only 223 (72%) were certified conflict-free. Another 23 were on the group's Active list, which means that had begun the process to be audited and earn conflict-free certification. As for the remaining operations, Nintendo said its partners' survey responses "revealed no evidence of conflict mineral use by those smelters either."

While fully one-fifth of the smelters and refiners in the company's supply chain are either not participating in the conflict-free smelter program or entirely unknown to CFSI, that still represents an improvement. Last year, only 47% of the smelters and refiners Nintendo used were certified conflict-free, and another 30% of them were unknown to CFSI.

As for future steps, the company added, "We will continue to advance our efforts on the issue of conflict minerals by continuing to communicate with our production partners, requiring them to set conflict minerals policies, use [conflict-free smelters], and endeavor to reduce overall risks in our supply chain."

Earlier this summer, reported on the progress various gaming companies showed in their annual conflict minerals reports. Nintendo's numbers were not included as the company is not publicly listed in the US, and so had not been required by law to file conflict minerals disclosures before June.

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Brendan Sinclair avatar
Brendan Sinclair: Brendan joined in 2012. Based in Toronto, Ontario, he was previously senior news editor at GameSpot.
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