Cisco products, like most electronics, contain tantalum, tin, tungsten, and gold. These minerals, known as 3TG, are mined around the world. 3TG are sometimes known as “conflict minerals” because of concerns about their mining and sale contributing to armed conflict and human rights abuses in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Cisco does not procure minerals directly from mines or the smelters or refiners (SORs) that process them. However, we are committed to upholding and respecting human rights for all people, including those who work in the earliest parts of our supply chain. Our goal is to work collaboratively with suppliers to source minerals consistent with our values around human rights, business ethics, labor, health and safety practices, and environmental responsibility. This approach includes sourcing responsibly from conflict-affected and high-risk areas (CAHRAs). Our full commitment, informed by the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), is captured in our Responsible Minerals Policy. Our Conflict Minerals Disclosure and Report, published in 2020, describes in detail how our due diligence activities align to the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas.
Because Cisco does not buy 3TG directly from SORs, we collaborate with our suppliers to conduct due diligence for responsible mineral sourcing. We also work across our industry to develop tools and practices to support due diligence. We use the Responsible Minerals Initiative (RMI) Conflict Minerals Reporting Template (CMRT) to survey suppliers, review SORs they report, and request them to work through their supply chains to shift sourcing to SORs conformant with RMI’s Responsible Minerals Assurance Process (RMAP).
After Cisco analyzes supplier CMRTs, we address any identified risks. This includes working with suppliers to remove non-RMAP-conformant SORs from the supply chain. We set the highest priority on SORs that meet Cisco’s definition of high risk. Through the Supply Chain Human Rights Governance Committee, we regularly notify Cisco’s supply chain leadership of our progress. If a supplier does not attempt to comply with our Responsible Minerals Policy, we may escalate the supplier to global supply chain management and possibly remove them from our supply chain. For more information, see the table below.
In fiscal 2020, Cisco continued collaborating with peer companies and other stakeholders through active participation in the Responsible Minerals Initiative (RMI). We were involved in the RMI Smelter Engagement Team, which works to increase participation in the Responsible Minerals Assurance Process (RMAP); the RMI Mining Engagement Team, which works with upstream stakeholders to increase the quantity and quality of data that enables downstream companies to identify and mitigate risks; and the RMI Artisanal and Small-scale Mining (ASM) Team, which is focused on addressing the unique risks and opportunities in the ASM sector. We anticipate deepening our involvement in these groups and engaging on other issues relevant to our minerals sourcing strategy.
In March 2020, Cisco became a member of the European Partnership for Responsible Minerals (EPRM), a multi-stakeholder partnership designed to increase the number of mines that adopt responsible mining practices in CAHRAs. We look forward to participating in this community and working to advance its in-region projects.
Beyond “conflict minerals”
Demand is increasing for accountability and transparency regarding human rights in global mineral supply chains. In fiscal 2020, Cisco initiated our first Cobalt Supplier Survey, using the RMI’s Cobalt Reporting Template (CRT), to survey lithium-ion battery suppliers. 100 percent of suppliers responded to the survey and the results are detailed below. Like the identified 3TG smelters and refiners, Cisco uses these results to conduct due diligence throughout the year to monitor risks and increase the overall conformance rate. In addition, Cisco conducted its first analysis of CAHRAs to understand the social and environmental impacts of mineral sourcing outside of the Great Lakes Region in central Africa. In part to address the challenges of due diligence for CAHRAs, Cisco continued its financial support of the RMI’s Upstream Due Diligence Smelter Fund. Our goals with this contribution are to:
- Support smelters making the transition to broader due diligence requirements
- Promote the adoption of RMAP assessment protocols beyond central Africa and into other CAHRAs
- Offset the due diligence cost of sourcing responsibly from CAHRAs and support peaceful economic activity in those regions
||Calendar year 2019 due diligence resultsTotal smelters and refiners by mineral38
||Number of conformant or active38
||Percentage of conformant or active100%
||Previous percentage conformant or active by year2018: 100%
||Calendar year 2019 due diligence resultsTotal smelters and refiners by mineral56
||Number of conformant or active47
||Percentage of conformant or active84%
||Previous percentage conformant or active by year2018: 90%
||Calendar year 2019 due diligence resultsTotal smelters and refiners by mineral47
||Number of conformant or active45
||Percentage of conformant or active96%
||Previous percentage conformant or active by year2018: 95%
||Calendar year 2019 due diligence resultsTotal smelters and refiners by mineral154
||Number of conformant or active108
||Percentage of conformant or active70%
||Previous percentage conformant or active by year2018: 69%
||Calendar year 2019 due diligence resultsTotal smelters and refiners by mineral16
||Number of conformant or active12
||Percentage of conformant or active75%
||Previous percentage conformant or active by year2018: N/A
Advancing transparency through the supply chain
Cisco recognizes a need to build upon current industry standards and increase the accuracy with which downstream companies report on the origin of their materials. As a contributor to RMI’s blockchain working group, we are exploring opportunities to leverage blockchain technology to provide enhanced transparency and trust. This includes valid data on the extraction, processing, and transportation of 3TG materials in Cisco products and the ability to share the collected data across the various actors in the supply chain. Since 2018, Cisco has worked with industry peers and large-scale mining companies to design and test traceability prototypes to learn how data generated in the mines at the start of the supply chain can support downstream companies to execute their responsible sourcing strategies. We also aim to understand how the value of that data can be returned to mining communities and drive peaceful economic development.