On January 31, Acting Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Michael Piwowar welcomed interested parties to submit comments in response to a statement calling into question the current U.S. Conflict Minerals Rule that is the guidance for companies to implement Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. In the weeks following, numerous companies, investors, activists, NGOs, and others have come out publicly in support of the Rule, including the Enough Project.
The Conflict Minerals Rule was created by the SEC pursuant to Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Since implementation began in 2013, the Rule has gradually led to improvements in the rule of law in the mining sectors of Congo, Rwanda, and other Great Lakes countries, contributed to improvements in humanitarian conditions in Congo and a weakening of key insurgent groups, and resulted in tangible benefits for U.S. corporations and their supply chains. The U.N. stated in 2010, the year that Dodd-Frank became law, that nearly every mine in the Kivu provinces was controlled by a military group, but according to an October 2016 study by the International Peace Information Service, 79 percent of miners at tin, tantalum, and tungsten mines surveyed in Congo now work at conflict-free mines.
If the Rule is suspended or weakened, it would incentivize armed groups in eastern Congo to return to hundreds of tin, tantalum, and tungsten mines, causing an increased humanitarian crisis. This would also lead to increased corruption in the minerals certification process in Congo and the region, thus creating major risks for U.S. companies sourcing minerals, and it would likely lead to a new de facto embargo on minerals from Congo, Rwanda, and the Great Lakes region. Furthermore, the cost for U.S. businesses to comply with the rule has been 74 to 85 percent less than the original SEC estimate, according to new information from Elm Sustainability Partners.
The SEC needs to hear that consumers and investors oppose any suspension, weakening, or repeal of the Conflict Minerals Rule.
To Submit Your Comment:
Click “Submit Detailed Comments” in the last paragraph.
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Dear Commissioner Piwowar,
I am writing to express my support for the continued implementation of the Conflict Minerals Rule. As a consumer, it is important to me that I am able to access key information about the companies I purchase from, including information about their conflict minerals sourcing practices.
I do not want my purchases to support violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Conflict Minerals Rule has made it easier for me to assess which companies are taking steps to ensure their products are not linked to this decades-long conflict. Additionally, I believe transparent supply chains are an important indicator of a company’s overall stability, which is a key factor for making both purchasing and investment decisions.
I urge you to keep the Conflict Minerals Rule fully intact, and to work with your fellow SEC commissioners to enforce the Rule moving forward.