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12 SMT007 MAGAZINE I FEBRUARY 2022 e time has come for a deliberate and com- prehensive national strategy that addresses critical materials/minerals. Doing so is increasingly critical to the long-term economy, national security, and the nation's global com- petitiveness. Establishing Conflict-free Regulations In the March 2013 issue of SMT Magazine, my column offered a snapshot of conflict mate- rials. At that time, four minerals were classi- fied to be "conflict." ese four essential ele- ments—tantalum, tin, tungsten, and gold— have been a key to a variety of end-use appli- cations for a wide array of industries ranging from electronics and industrial to consumers, avionics, and military sectors. e primary mines of these four essential elements are situated in the eastern portion of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and surrounding countries, and the minerals have been mined in the conditions of armed conflict and severe human rights abuses in the region. e region's armed militia groups intended to exploit the area's natural resources. is pervasive exploitation of natural min- eral resources in this high-risk area caused a grave concern by the international com- munity about the region's activities. Interna- tionally, there was an increased attention on the acute violence and gross human rights violations in the mining of these minerals. Accordingly, this region was deemed as "Con- flict Region." Critical Materials, A Compelling Case, Part 1 SMT Prospects & Perspectives by Dr. Jennie S. Hwang, CEO, H-TECHNOLOGIES GROUP

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