Updated on August 29, 2019

Addressing High-Risk Mineral Issues

In accordance with the Sony Group Policy for Responsible Supply Chain of Minerals, Sony has designed an internal due diligence framework to determine the country of origin and chain of custody for any high-risk minerals in its supply chain. This due diligence framework is designed to conform, in all material respects, to the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas (OECD Guidance).

Sony currently identifies tantalum, tin, gold, tungsten and cobalt as the High-Risk Minerals for Sony. Further information on the conflict minerals defined by Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, is available at "Addressing the Issue of Conflict Minerals."

Responsible Cobalt Sourcing

Cobalt is an important mineral used in lithium-ion batteries for smart phones and other electronic products. There have been concerns about child labor and working conditions at sites where it is extracted in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a country known to have the largest reserves of cobalt in the world.

Managing the Cobalt Supply Chain

In fiscal 2016, Sony undertook assessments of adherence to the Sony Supply Chain Code of Conduct as well as investigations to confirm the chain of custody with respect to the cobalt supply chain across all of its battery suppliers and battery parts suppliers. Sony assessed a total of 14 suppliers, including seven lithium-ion battery suppliers and seven suppliers that deliver battery parts that contain cobalt for its battery manufacturing business.*1 Five of these suppliers reported that the cobalt contained in the battery parts they delivered to Sony included cobalt sourced from the DRC. To further ensure compliance with the Sony Supply Chain Code of Conduct, Sony requested all 14 suppliers to ensure the compliance of their upstream suppliers.

In fiscal 2017, Sony worked with five regular battery suppliers to identify cobalt refiners in their supply chains and implemented surveys to verify compliance with the Sony Group Policy for Responsible Supply Chain of Minerals. The surveys comprised on-site assessments by an outside assessment company and document assessments using the Cobalt Reporting Template developed by RMI. The results identified 15 cobalt refiners, each of which was asked to fill out and submit RMI’s Risk Readiness Assessment. As of August 2019, Sony had received completed self-assessments from eight refineries. Refineries that were not in compliance with the Sony Group Policy for Responsible Supply Chain of Minerals were asked to take immediate corrective actions.

In fiscal 2018, Sony worked with refineries and supported industry initiatives to encourage cobalt refineries in Sony’s supply chain to further address human rights risks. Specifically, cobalt refineries that were identified in the supply chain were asked to join the audit program for cobalt refineries launched by RMI. Sony also donated funds to the Responsible Business Alliance Foundation, which covers the cost for refineries to undergo assessments and facilitates RMI’s audit program.

  • *1Sony sold its battery business on September 1, 2017.

Multi-Stakeholder Cooperation

Sony recognizes that multi-stakeholder collaboration is the key to identifying and mitigating the adverse human rights impact that can be associated with mineral extraction in high-risk areas. Specifically, Sony continuously collaborates with various multi-stakeholder efforts such as the Responsible Cobalt Initiative (RCI) and RMI in order to participate in the development of the due diligence process and mitigate human rights risks in the supply chain.

In fiscal 2017, to better understand the current situation of artisanal and small-scale mining in the DRC, Sony supported an independent academic research project conducted by the Center for Effective Global Action (CEGA) at the University of Berkeley together with several other companies. The research aims to provide rigorous empirical data on households engaged in artisanal mining, and it involves collecting survey data from households, children, village leaders, and local mineral traders in 150 communities that are representative and cover the full geographical extent of the DRC Copper Belt.

Sony will continue to manage its cobalt supply chain and ensure that it procures cobalt produced in refiners that have been determined not to be contributing to conflicts or serious human rights violation.

Supporting Sustainable Tin Mining Practices in Indonesia

Unsafe working conditions and environmental concerns in Indonesia's tin industry identified in some reports are a major factor why Sony has been a member of the Tin Working Group (TWG) since its launch in 2014. The goal of the TWG is to positively contribute to addressing the sustainability challenges of tin mining and smelting in Indonesia, including labor conditions, environmental issues, and impact on local communities, while recognizing the economic benefits of the sector in terms of poverty reduction.

In 2014, the TWG was established with a membership comprising global tin users (downstream and midstream industry), the Responsible Business Alliance (RBA), an international environmental NGO, and a global tin trade association. The TWG, which has been operating under RMI since 2017, works with local partners from the Indonesian tin industry and the Indonesian government both at the federal level and local level from Bangka and Belitung.

The TWG started its work with a situational analysis conducted to better understand the issues requiring attention in the tin mining industry in Indonesia. Subsequently, the TWG started working closely with key local industry players to address issues via multi-stakeholder dialogue. With funding received from the European Partnership on Responsible Minerals (EPRM),*1 the TWG has been supporting land reclamation projects at former mining sites as well as occupational health and safety programs since 2017, contributing to the sustainability of tin mining in Indonesia. Sony will continue to support these efforts by participating in the TWG.

  • *1The EPRM is a multi-stakeholder partnership that encompasses international organizations, citizen groups, and the governments of the United Kingdom, Germany, and the Netherlands.

Responsible Minerals Initiative (RMI)

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