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Intel: SEC Process ‘Helpful,’ Need ‘Fair and Timely’ Rules for Addressing Conflict Minerals

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Intel: SEC Process ‘Helpful,’ Need ‘Fair and Timely’ Rules for Addressing Conflict Minerals

Posted by Annette LaRocco on February 2, 2012

Intel: SEC Process ‘Helpful,’ Need ‘Fair and Timely’ Rules for Addressing Conflict Minerals

In a newly released industry white paper the Intel Corporation praised the Securities and Exchange Commission’s, or SEC, process for instituting rules concerning conflict minerals mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In section 1502, the conflict minerals provision of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, Congress empowered the SEC to draft regulations requiring, among other things, companies to disclose whether they use conflict minerals from the Congo in their products.

Intel touts their engagement on conflict minerals issues, which pre-dates the legislative action taken by Dodd-Frank. With their strong support of the upcoming regulations Intel is proving to be an industry leader on conflict minerals. The company notes:

[W]e support fair and timely rules and we believe that the SEC regulatory process has been helpful in bringing others to the table and maintaining broad momentum on this important issue. As the rulemaking process moves forward, we will continue to focus our energy and efforts as we always have – on implementing the systems and processes that will enable us to achieve a “conflict-free” supply chain.

Intel has committed itself to finding ways to source conflict-free minerals from the eastern Congo. The statement also highlighted Intel’s support and involvement in the Public Private Alliance for Responsible Minerals Trade, or PPA. The PPA is a joint initiative launched last November by the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development, a coalition of private sector partners, and civil society and  aims to decouple the trade in minerals from ongoing violence and human rights abuses in Congo. The PPA hopes to leverage a responsible minerals trade through financial and technical incentives and resources.

Importantly, Intel’s statements illustrate how conscientious corporations can be part of the solution to the problem of conflict minerals, rather than barricades standing in the way of progress. Intel’s work regarding conflict minerals has been proactive; the company has not shied away from addressing human rights concerns with their supply chains, stating, “We have approached this issue like we would address other significant business challenges at Intel.”

Intel joins a broad coalition coming out in support of strong and timely SEC regulations of conflict minerals, which includes a group of U.S. senators, Congolese civil society and human rights groups, NGOs, and even the coordinator of the U.N. Group of Experts, Fred Robarts. 

Intel goes on to say, “This issue is too important to wait.” The SEC must release strong conflict minerals regulations, free of any phase-ins, delays, or loopholes.

Intel’s statement of support is proof that industry can be a responsible partner in conflict-free sourcing, and the SEC should not weaken regulations because of intransigence of some corporations. Amnesty International recently released a petition to that effect, urging the SEC to issue strong rules regarding the conflict minerals provision of Dodd Frank, which can be signed here.

Photo: A tantalum mine in eastern Congo (Enough / Sasha Lezhnev)