Canadian Companies Push for Congo-Free Tantalum Market

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"The public outcry against conflict minerals is already having an impact on the industry."

The movement to stop the flow of Congo conflict minerals into the global supply chain is growing and activist groups like The Enough Project are employing several tactics to get the message out.

On Wednesday night, a special episode of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit aired with the storyline revolving around the sexual violence against women being committed in epidemic proportions on a daily basis in eastern Congo, where armed groups use rape as a tool in their domination of the region's mineral resources. The episode was the second collaboration between SVU's producers and the Enough Project.

In a recent Huffington Post article, both SVU actor Mariska Hargitay and Enough Project Co-Founder John Prendergast implored consumers to "speak up and demand that the top electronics companies produce conflict-free products." One way consumers can "speak up," urged the pair, is by writing directly to electronics industry leaders.

The public outcry against conflict minerals is already having an impact on the industry. Some of the world's top manufacturers and processors of tantalum will be meeting in Boston this April to discuss how to develop a certification process for smelters whose tantalum is procured through "socially and environmentally responsible mines." The conference is sponsored by The Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition and hosted by Cabot Corp., one of the global leaders in tantalum products.

With pressure mounting to provide transparency and responsibility in the supply chain for the electronics industry, the investment case for miners exploring for tantalum in conflict-free regions is increasing.

Recent winner of the 2010 PDAC Environmental and Social Responsibility Award, Avalon Rare Metals Inc. (TSX:AVL; OTCQX:AVARF) is a junior exploration and development company with five rare metals and minerals projects (three advanced-stage development) in Canada. Avalon's Separation Rapids project in Northwestern Ontario is a tantalum bearing granitic pegmatite property that also holds lithium, cesium and rubidium.

Vancouver-based Commerce Resources Corp. (TSX.V:CCE; PK SHEETS:CMRZF)'s Blue River Tantalum-Niobium Project is located in BC. The company is aggressively moving forward on a significant E&D program on the property, focused on bringing Upper Fir through the development stages and towards production.

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