May 31st marks the third annual deadline for electronics, manufacturing, and other companies to file conflict minerals reports with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), as part of their obligation under Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. With three years of reporting now completed, the SEC must follow through on its responsibility to hold companies accountable for the content of these reports by ensuring that companies have filed complete and accurate reports that meet regulatory requirements.
The reporting requirement impacts all companies publicly traded in the United States with products containing any of the four conflict minerals: tin, tungsten, tantalum, and gold.
Dodd-Frank 1502, the corresponding SEC Conflict Minerals Rule, and the OECD Due Diligence Guidance are important transparency measures to help stem the flow of conflict minerals from eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (Congo), where over 5.4 million people have died since 1993 as a result of armed conflict. These measures are one part of a comprehensive approach to addressing this issue. Other policy steps on governance are also needed to end the conflict, grand corruption, and wider repression in Congo.
Since the first filing deadline in 2014, there has been steady progress both in supply chain management and impact on armed group funding in Congo. Today, 216 out of approximately 324 smelters and refiners worldwide (67 percent) have passed conflict-free audits and an additional 50 smelters/refiners are in the process of being audited, for a total of 266 participating companies (82 percent). These audits are a crucial step towards ensuring conflict-free supply chains. Additionally, a 2014 independent study by the International Peace Information Service (IPIS) found that 70 percent of tin, tungsten, and tantalum mines surveyed in eastern Congo were no longer controlled by armed groups, and 204 mines in Congo are now officially certified as conflict-free.