The requirements of the US Securities and Exchange Commissions conflict minerals regulation begin to kick in this year. In this blog, we're giving you an overview of the online resources available where you can learn more about whether and how to comply with the rule.
In August 2012, the SEC adopted a regulation that requires publicly traded companies to annually disclose information on the source of conflict minerals — including tantalum, tin, gold, or tungsten sourced from covered countries, mostly in Africa — contained in their products. Compiling this information will require extensive inquiries on the origin of minerals from suppliers. In 2014, companies will have to begin to file this information with the SEC, based on 2013 data, and to disclose that information on their websites.
Most companies will probably engage lawyers to advise them whether and to what extent the regulation applies to them. But it's not a bad idea for non-lawyers to know what the regulation says. Short of reading the several hundred pages of the SEC’s final rule, you can read a fact sheet issued by the SEC when it announced the regulation.
There are also a number of online resources provided by lawyers designed to provide guides to companies who may need to comply with the rule. One of the most comprehensive I've seen is this one, from the Kaye Scholer law firm. It lets you know how to figure out if you're covered by the regulation as well as a checklist of action items.
The lawyers over at Squire Sanders issue periodic updates of developments related to the rule, including the progress of litigation attempting to overturn it. The latest recap can be found here.
The Conflict Minerals Resource Center provides links to dozens of documents related to the regulation from government, industry, media, and other sources.
Then, there are organizations that are out to help companies at the nuts-and-bolts level of compliance. These are sometimes directed toward specific industries.
If you are in retailing, the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) offers training and education materials specifically directed at compliance by the retailing industry. The materials can be used as-is or customized for a particular company. The materials are available here. You have to be a RILA member to access the materials.
MetalMiner, a website on sourcing for the global metals markets, periodically produces articles and white papers on conflict metals compliance, which are gathered here.
MetalMiner's most recent white paper, the Definitive Guide to Conflict Minerals Compliance for Manufacturers, is designed as a comprehensive guide to conflict minerals compliance and is geared towards metal buyers in the manufacturing sector. The guide includes an analysis of the rule, a description of the exact metal forms — including semi-finished forms of metal — affected by the SEC rules, and an overview of supporting technologies.
The paper also makes the interesting point that a company can improve its competitive position “by becoming a better-documented, more knowledgeable supplier of parts, components and other elements.” By tying product and vendor data to a customer relationship management system, a company can “proactively enrich the reporting offered to clients and prospects.”