back to article New rule on blood-soaked metals in mobes is POINTLESS

There's been much trumpeting of new rules that require companies to 'fess up if they use minerals extracted from war-torn African nations. If this is news to you, try this handy guide El Reg made earlier. Having actually gone and read the directive [PDF], freshly issued by US watchdog SEC, I cannot see that it achieves anything …

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Anonymous Coward

I've always liked...

Tim's sense of telling it the way it is - contrary to Daily Fail thinking - , but this is his best yet.

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Why am I not surprised..

..when some well meaning and expensive bit of legislation by a 'deeply concerned' left wing bunch of liberals...

...turns out to be at best a needlessly expensive waste of time and

...at worst a completely counter productive action that actually makes things worse.

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No Tantalum

For most small bits of electronics, ceramic capacitors are supplanting tantalum anyway. They have the added advantage of being less prone to exploding if unhappy. This has been encouraged by the supply situation, tantalum capacitors are not cheap and go through periods where it's difficult to get hold of them, so alternatives are preferred.

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Boffin

Re: No Tantalum

> ceramic capacitors are supplanting tantalum

Not at all, they're completely different beasts. Ceramic capacitors have been around for decades, they're used for low-capacitance applications such as decoupling ad RF. They are non-polarized.

Tantalum is used for electrolytic capacitors (which are usually polarized), to replace the bulkier 'wet' and solid-polymer eletrolytics that take up more room and can die when overheated. That's why tantalum is so sought-after for miniaturized equipment like mobile phones.

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Boffin

Re: No Tantalum

Erm, yes they are, and have been for a while - sparked by the Tantalum shortage of 2000. Ceramic capacitors have slowly crept into Tantalum territory - with high value (10uF and above) low cost parts. They are much better electrically - 20 milli-Ohms of ESR is impossible in a Tant. The other thing is that power supplies are moving into the many MHz of switching speed, and this needs less bulk decoupling. I haven't seen any Tants on new equipment for a few years now. Even Tantalum's abundant daughter, Niobium, finally developed to a point where its as good as Tantalum (in capacitors), doesn't have much market share. Its over, baby, better park all that Tantalum next to the Europium (was used in TV phosphors).

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Pint

Best collective noun for a long time

A "squabble of lawyers." I think that should be a new el Reg measurement unit.

Have a pint on me for that one!

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Coffee/keyboard

I read "squabble of lawyers"

And instead of beer, this icon happened instead!

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I misread it as "quibble"

But maybe that only applies to the solicitor type.

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Just remember...

Legislation AND sausage are similar. You don't want to know how they are made, but sometimes the hot dog is pretty tasty, even though there are groups that don't want you to have it.

In this case, lots of people had their fingers in the legislation, and the other rule applies: The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

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Im a firm believer that the more pointless paperwork one has to do, the more right wing one becomes.

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Bronze badge

Re: Let's just go back to parallel plate, air dielectric

Haven't apple patented that as well as all the other things in the world?

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Re: Let's just go back to parallel plate, air dielectric

All these 'Haven't apple patented..' quips are getting a bit old. So old in fact, that archeologists have just dug up the first one ever writen. No longer funny or clever or creative or interesting.

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Trollface

The first "Haven't Apple Patented...?"

Original Sin.

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archeologists have just dug up the first one ever wriTten....

but they cant tell us about it, cos you-know-who holds a patent on the rounded cornered shovels they used to dig it up

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Coffee/keyboard

Re: archeologists have just dug up the first one ever wriTten....

Can't type, see icon...

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Re: archeologists have just dug up the first one ever wriTten....

See - it can be done!

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Joke

Re: archeologists have just dug up the first one ever wriTten....

The shovel, now there's a ground breaking invention!

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Go

Re: Let's just go back to parallel plate, air dielectric

Haven't apple patented clever, creative & interesting which is why it's no longer funny!

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Thumb Up

Very good article

It's nice to see someone who knows the subject, thanks. Clearly and carefully explained.

Also, very nice to see industry acting responsibly.

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Re: Very good article

True, but I think this is an exception. I can't see it working for Gold as an example since everything can be done very low tech, so there is not a choke point for industry to control. Of course the law will not help for the same reasons.

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you're right

Low tech.....tin and gold there's no real way to control them. As you say, gold, there are so many places you can turn up with a few ounces of gold and get paid for it that trying to control that just won't work.

Tin has similar problems. The ore they mine there (cassiterite) is so rich as they have it that you can convert it into crude tin with a bloom furnace. Build one of those in a couple of days with some stone and clay ( Cornish miners did 1500 years ago) and you'll end up with a product you can sell to scrap yards right around the world.

Tin smelting is, after all, by definition a Bronze Age technology.

Tungsten's a bit more difficult to deal with: WO3 concentrate they already make. It's the getting from that to W metal which does provide a choke point. And then as I say about tantalum.

It's just not a good law.

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Happy

Common Sense, and Politicians

"so stick a bloke in the goods receiving part of the 10 or 11 factories globally that can handle it and you're done."

A good common sense solution, you'll never sell it to the politicians.

Also doing this is not a "big thing", so they can't get their sound byte quota from it in front of a camera

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So it's all been rather a waste of time, hasn't it?

Well, no, not really. By one estimate, the assets of the DRC could make it the 5th wealthiest country in the World. But we wouldn't want that, would we? Just look at what happened in Libya. Besides which we really have to keep saluting the original UN Rio convention agreement - you know, the one that is intended to keep the whole of Africa permanently non-developed economically - because ho hum it's all about Saving Mother Gaia under the Precautionary Principle. But it's not as if you need Big Capital to be involved (ahh... whose capital would that be): like the diamonds sat on a beach in Namibia, there are places in the Congo where you can just pick the stuff up. But you try just that, and see what happens to you.

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Flame

Let's face it, it's just another "feel good" law. Politicians pass laws to make everyone feel safe, comfortable, or whatever. Here in my home state, they passed laws to make "everyone feel safe about not having forest fires'. Guess what? They didn't ticket Mother Nature for lightning. Nor do idiots with fireworks pay attention to laws.

Flame icon.. well because....

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Anonymous Coward

Okay Tim, looks like I agree here

looking at the original doc I can't see much by way of mitigation regarding your third party escape clause, although to be fair they do describe their reasoning for it on pages 66 and 67 in some detail.

Now I don't get your objections to the law though. You say it's mainly impotent but then you've already said that various companies got together to sort that out, so now you've got a law that's at worst useless because it's been subsumed by existing practice, and at best a framework against which to measure conformance to the voluntary code, so why the shouting.

In fact you say that it 'will have absolutely no effect whatsoever', is it normal to write an article saying that, basically, zero has happened?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Okay Tim, looks like I agree here

The law is more of a symptom of what's wrong rather than a terrible consequence.

The West appears to be legislating itself into irrelevance. Having taken on the role of "protector of wealth" and abandoned the role of "governing ethically", politicians are now too badly compromised by they time they reach power to take the hard decisions. Wanting to hold onto power for as long as possible, they don't take the difficult action which needs to be taken. So they "send messages" and rush through badly thought out laws while doing almost nothing apart from looking after the interests of the wealthy.

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