Industry Groups Launch Conflict Minerals Compliance Center

The initiative will help member companies comply with a new SEC rule that requires them to disclose the use of conflict minerals in their products. The first such report is due by the end of May.

A new regulation on the use of so-called conflict minerals in products has led to a broad cooperative effort by multiple industry groups to help their members make sense of it—and meet compliance requirements that take effect this spring.

Seven powerhouse industry associations are teaming up with supply-chain management firm Source Intelligence and law firm Schulte Rother and Zabel LLP to launch a cross-industry training and resource center that directly addresses the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s conflict minerals compliance rule.

A provision of the Dodd-Frank Act, a 2010 law that reformed regulation of the financial industry, directed the SEC to develop and enforce a rule that would draw attention to public companies’ use of minerals such as gold or tin obtained from the Democratic Republic of Congo or other nearby countries plagued by violent conflict. Under the new rule, companies are required to disclose whether a product includes conflict minerals “necessary to the functionality or production of a product.” The first report, for products made in 2013, is due by May 31.

The associations behind the Conflict Minerals Resource Center include the American Apparel and Footware Association, Fashion Jewelry and Accessories Trade Association, National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), Toy Industry Association, National Retail Federation, United States Fashion Industry Association, and National Electrical Manufacturers Association. Together, the group will support over 15,000 member companies that collectively generate more than $3 trillion in GDP and hundreds of thousands of jobs, according to a statement.

The goal of the resource center is to develop easy-to-use conflict minerals compliance tools and training for the associations’ member companies. “By providing the member companies and their vendors and contractors with the information and resources needed to meet the compliance requirements, all players along the supply chain can spend less time navigating policy, and more time producing the products and services that generate economic growth and jobs,” the group said in the statement.

An ongoing lawsuit challenging the rule, filed by major industry groups including the U.S. Chamber Commerce and NAM, is still pending. Oral arguments in the case were heard earlier this month in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. But while they wait for a final ruling in the case, the groups are moving ahead to help their members comply with the rule.

A one-time fee gives member companies access to the resource center’s website, which contains FAQs, compliance documents, case studies, training tools, and news and updates.

A man throws out a dish of water while mining for gold March 27, 2006 in Mongbwalu, Congo. Gold and other mineral deposits have become a catalyst to much of the conflict in Congo. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Rob Stott

By Rob Stott

Rob Stott is a contributing editor for Associations Now. MORE

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