Gaming

Nintendo’s Record on Conflict Minerals is praised, but with an important catch

© Nintendo Vita

Just recently Nintendo released its corporate social responsibility report; there have been several positives in its various policies, although there is still room for improvement. One area addressed, in manufacturing, is the sourcing of key resources with the desire to prevent “conflict minerals” from mines and smelters that fund militias and lead to crime and human rights abuses.

GamesIndustry.biz has published its annual report assessing this area, as well as the records of major technology companies including Nintendo. There are many interesting details on the background of the problem, the legislation in the United States and Europe to counter it, and the general trends and progress made. Companies make disclosures every year, tech companies are typically “good enough” compared to some other industries.

We encourage you to read the report (linked above and at the end of this article), as it provides key information to help you understand the problem.

Regarding Nintendo’s status, in particular, it does technically very well in terms of not sourcing conflicting minerals for its manufacture. However, there is a major problem in this assessment, since Nintendo achieves an impressive level of compliance simply avoiding countries where challenges and extra control work are needed.

This year, Nintendo once again saw a 100% response rate from its suppliers, and 100% of the 266 SORs (foundries and refineries) in the chain were compliant. These are not only 3TG (tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold) smelters, either, as the list also included 11 cobalt compliant smelters.

It’s commendable, but Nintendo seems to be one of the companies that gets its figures compliant by cutting entire countries out of its supply chain, even if the SORs are certified by an industry standard audit.

… Nintendo has released a list of its 266 SORs and their locations. We found only one – a tin smelter in Rwanda – from one of the countries covered by the Dodd-Frank Act. None were placed on the European Union’s CAHRA (Conflict-Affected and High Risk Areas) list.

In summary and clear, Nintendo’s manufacturing – and the products we buy – have no conflicting minerals in its production. Yet Nintendo is realizing this, no doubt, the wrong way, simply by avoiding countries with risks and conflicts of mineral problems. The ideal approach (which is followed by some companies) is to source certified suppliers in ‘conflict-affected’ areas, supporting their industry by avoiding involuntary contributions to militias and criminal groups.

Nintendo, finally, has taken a simpler path to avoid the deeper challenges of the problem. It reassures consumers in the sense that their products are not made with conflict minerals, but it also fails to contribute to improve in question in the affected countries

That seems to be the current state of gaming from a Nintendo perspective; Here is the hope for continuous improvement in the industry in the coming years.

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