IPC Provides Update on SEC Conflict Minerals Rule

By Fern Abrams, IPC director of government relations and environmental policy

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Mary Schapiro testified March 6 before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government. In response to a question from Congressman Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.), Shapiro stated that the conflict minerals rule “will have a phase in but I don’t know how long” for due diligence mechanisms to develop and get in place, and they are looking at the OECD guidelines. She said that the SEC “will try to give latitude” for companies to be able to comply.  She also noted that this issue is so “out of the ordinary” for the SEC, the issues are very complex and the law is very prescriptive. Shapiro added that she did not think that a de minimis provision for small amounts of minerals was possible under the terms of the statute.

An article on Bloomberg.com states that the SEC said they will need “the next couple of months” to finish. They also state that there will be a phase-in and the rule “will try to give latitude and flexibility in some areas.” Chairman Schapiro’s testimony can be viewed online; the Q&A on conflict minerals takes place from 1:20:40 to about 1:25:30.

While I wouldn’t “count our chickens before they hatch,” I think this is a very good indication that the SEC is hearing our industry’s concerns and trying to take a reasonable approach despite the pressure from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and some members of Congress.

In the interim, IPC will continue to move forward, with your assistance, in developing guidance and tools to assist the industry.  For more details, visit IPC’s conflict minerals resources page or feel to contact me, Tony Hilvers, IPC vice president of industry programs or Stephanie Castorina, IPC environmental programs manager.

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