Report: Bloomberg: BMW, Ferrari, VW cars use tungsten mined by terrorists

Filed under: Government/Legal, Plants/Manufacturing, Technology, BMW, Volkswagen, Ferrari, South America

Rebels from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), enter a small town near Miranda, Colombia, Wednesday, April 17, 1996. A column of the same rebel group ambushed a military convoy Monday killing 31 soldiers and wounding 18 outside the town of Puerres, located 350 miles southwest of Bogota. The FARC are the largest and oldest guerrilla group in Colombia. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

Bloomberg Markets is reporting that BMW, Volkswagen and Ferrari have been using tungsten ore sourced from Colombia’s FARC rebel terrorists. The extensive story focuses on Colombia’s illegal mining trade and calls into question the provenance of the rare ore that is used not only in crankshaft parts production, but is also found in the world’s computing and telecommunications industry for use in screens.

The ore is mined by the FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army), and exported to Pennsylvania, where it is refined. The refined ore is then sent over to Austria, where a company called Plansee turns it into a finished product. Now, it’s important to note that we aren’t talking about the world’s supply of tungsten here. In 2012, Plansee’s American refinery purchased 93.2 metric tons of tungsten, valued at $1.8 million. That’s peanuts, with the entire Colombian tungsten mining industry producing just one percent of the world’s supplies.

That doesn’t make indirectly supporting FARC any more acceptable, though. BMW, VW and Ferrari are all committed to not accepting mineral supplies from the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is also in the grips of a guerrilla insurrection funded, in part, by illegal mining. The same commitment would figure to extend to Colombian mining, but as BMW points out, it’s difficult for a multi-national manufacturer to know where every item in its supply chain comes from. A company spokesperson says as much, telling Bloomberg, “These few grams out of the billions of tons of raw materials passing through the BMW supply chain are of no practical relevance.”

This response is perhaps somewhat blasé, but BMW, Ferrari and Volkswagen aren’t directly negotiating with the FARC rebels, and we’d be stunned if the three manufacturers were even aware of where the tungsten was coming from. By the time it arrives in their respective factories, it’s traveled from Colombia, to Pennsylvania to Austria, making for a rather difficult web of countries and networks to track. Even so, with Bloomberg drawing a spotlight on the activities, we’re assuming a few phone calls are going to be made.

Bloomberg: BMW, Ferrari, VW cars use tungsten mined by terrorists originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 08 Aug 2013 13:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Supreme Court strikes down Bloomberg’s hybrid taxi plan for NYC

Filed under: Etc., Government/Legal

New York City hybrid taxi

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has fought long and hard to uphold a local law requiring all city cab companies to replace their gas-guzzling Ford Crown Victoria sedans with more efficient livery vehicles. A noble goal, no doubt, but the Supreme Court is having none of it.

The New York Post reports that the highest court in the land refused to hear the case after four years of battles in the lower courts, giving the victory to the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade. The court ruled that federal agencies have the sole right to regulate emissions and efficiency, not the mayor of one town – even if it is the City That Never Sleeps.

When the Supreme Court swings its gavel, there usually isn’t another shot, but that likely won’t stop Mayor Bloomberg from lobbying Congress to change the rules. The mayor said that local governments are the ones dealing with climate change and energy policy, adding “the federal government seems unable to address those issues.”

While the city of New York appears to have lost the efficiency war, the Big Apple can still feel good about the fact that some 4,400 of the 13,237 cabs on its streets are hybrids. And if gas prices continue to jump, we’re thinking many of the other 8,000 cabs will follow suit.

[Source: New York Post | Image: Chris Hondros/Getty]

Supreme Court strikes down Bloomberg’s hybrid taxi plan for NYC originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 03 Mar 2011 17:21:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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