IPC Continues Leadership on EU Conflict Minerals Advocacy

Two weeks ago, IPC held a well-attended conflict minerals conference in Brussels. The conference, which featured lead DG Trade regulator Signe Ratso, was held to inform industry about U.S. and EU conflict minerals regulations. IPC also met separately with DG trade officials to discuss the issues in more detail and to advocate for member concerns.

In her presentation, Ms. Ratso confirmed that the Commission intends to align with Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Conflict Minerals Guidelines which were strongly supported by the comments provided during the stakeholder process conducted earlier this year. Ms. Ratso also said that the covered minerals/metals would be limited to tin, tantalum, tungsten (3Ts) and gold, as that is the current scope of the OECD guidelines. She further stated that other minerals could be included if the OECD were to add additional minerals to their scope. She confirmed that the Commission’s proposal would not be like the U.S. Dodd-Frank regulation but that it would be global in scope and that EU regulations would focus on upstream actors. However, she did not provide details as to how this might work.

Ms. Ratso’s presentation is available to IPC members at http://www.ipc.org/eu-conflict-minerals-presentation.

During follow-up meetings with DG trade staff, the group discussed the difficulties companies are having in complying with Dodd-Frank. IPC staff emphasized the inherent difficulty in supply chain solutions. Although industry, especially the electronics industry, is making some progress, it is quite small and limited to specific minerals, products, and sectors and that most companies are unlikely to be able to trace all of their minerals back to the smelter for the foreseeable future.
The EU Commission intends to propose legislation by the end of 2013. Following the proposal, the regulation is expected to be forwarded to the Development and Trade Committees in the EU Parliament. Because of Parliamentary elections in the spring, action by the full Parliament is not expected until fall 2014.

In addition to Ms. Ratso’s presentation, the EU Conflict Minerals conference included presentations by David Bensusan, Minerals Supply Africa Ltd., on the history of conflict minerals and the current situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Tyler Gillard, OECD, on due diligence; David Engvall, Covington & Burling, on an overview of U.S. conflict minerals regulations; and a company panel discussion with representatives from Rolls-Royce, Phillips, TE Connectivity and Ericsson.

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