24 August 2012

Nobody Appears Happy with SEC's Conflict Minerals Decision

The long journey through the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of Section 1502 in the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Act has come to an end. A 3-2 vote adopted the provision that will force mining companies to detail their operations in conflict regions.
For consumers, this means that large electronics companies will be put on the spot to show that they are sourcing their minerals from conflict-free sources. The section has elicited a very strong debate and neither side was very happy with the final decision on Wednesday.
Supporters of the bill say it is a way to reduce the power of armed militias in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. If companies are unable to trade in conflict regions the areas will be forces to make changes in order to enjoy the benefits of international mineral trade. The decline in power will provide more safety for the people who have been brutalized for years.
Despite the SEC ruling in favor of the supporters, they were less than pleased by the decision to include a 2 year phase-in period. “Although the rule appears to have been weakened to placate the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, the threat of a lawsuit by these associations remains,” wrote Sasha Lezhnev and Darren Fenwick of the Enough Project shortly after the bill passed. Fellow Advocacy group Global Witness called the phase-in a “big fat loophole for companies” in a tweet while the SEC was discussing the matter.
Though it was a vote in favor of the section, the decision is by no means the end of the debate. The US Chamber of Commerce looms large with a potential lawsuit that could cause further delays or strike down the legislation altogether.
Read the rest of my article on Humanosphere.