December 9, 2012 – December 16, 2012

Global Witness Calls on Companies to Come Clean on Conflict Minerals Lawsuit

Global Witness, a non-governmental, not-for-profit organization, issued a press release calling on companies who are members of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers, or the Business Roundtable to make clear exactly what their position is on the current lawsuit against the Securities and Exchange Commission to set aside or modify the Conflict Minerals Rule. Specifically, Global Witness would like the companies to (1) issue a public statement clearly outlining the company’s position in relation to the lawsuit; and, (2) encourage the Chamber of Commerce, NAM and the Business Roundtable to immediately withdraw their lawsuit.

Journal of Accountancy: Build a Strong Team to Comply with Conflict Minerals Rule

According to Ernst & Young (E&Y), conflict minerals compliance best practices include setting up a governance structure and developing a charter, work plan, timeline, and budget. Internal information should be sent to employees, training sessions can be conducted if necessary, and the audit committee and board of directors should be kept in the loop. E&Y offered the following specific guidance for engaging suppliers: (1) review procurement policies and supplier diligence practices, (2) consider including broader elements in a supplier code of conduct, (3) develop procedures for suspending or terminating suppliers that do not comply with your sourcing policies, (4) benchmark your supply chain policy against those of your competitors, and (5) when considering acquisitions, keep conflict minerals in mind. Other suggestions from E&Y include: using technology to identify red flags for further investigation, leverage industry associations for guidance, and maintain reviewable business records.

Squire Sanders Releases Interactive Flowchart for Conflict Minerals Compliance

An interactive flowchart prepared by Squire Sanders offers much needed guidance in navigating the Dodd-Frank conflict minerals disclosure requirements. The flowchart, an impressive visual tool, is augmented by narrative discussions of various topics and terms used in the conflict minerals rule and release. Further background can be found at the Squire Sanders conflict minerals resources page.

EICC and GeSI Release PowerPoint Titled “Overview of Conflict Minerals”

This Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC) and Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) PowerPoint provides readers with an overview of conflict minerals and discusses the resources and tools currently available for companies to use. EICC and GeSI have developed a Conflict Minerals Reporting Template to help companies gather due diligence information in a common format. In addition, EICC and GeSI have implemented a Conflict-Free Smelter (CFS) Program that requires Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) guidance to aid in the identification of smelters and refiners that have sourced conflict-free minerals.

American Coatings Association (ACA) Following the Conflict Minerals Rule

The ACA has received a number of inquiries on the conflict minerals rule, and is working closely with its members and other affected associations to obtain clarification on the rule.

Ethical Jewelry? Conflict Minerals to Face Rules Starting January 1st

Because of the conflict minerals federal-disclosure requirement, Paul A. Griffin, professor at the University of California, Davis Graduate School of Management, contends that items containing conflict minerals could rise in price overall. Professor Griffin expects the manufacturer to pass along the extra cost of compliance, ultimately hitting the pocketbook of everyday consumers. In addition, Professor Griffin notes that the conflict minerals rule could impact the stock market starting in January, especially American businesses, as companies in China and other countries are not subject to the new rule and do not have to incur additional compliance costs. Finally, he highlights that it may be more difficult for individuals to sell heirloom jewelry if they have no documentation detailing the origin of the gold or other minerals contained in the jewelry.

USS-POSCO Industries – Use of Conflict Minerals Letter

USS-POSCO Industries (UPI), an owner and operator of a steel finishing plant in California, represents in a letter dated December 12, 2012, that to the best of [its] knowledge, the products supplied by USS-POSCO Industries to [its] customers are free of any conflict minerals as that term is defined in Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. This is an example of a supplier representation letter that could be useful for UPI’s customers when conducting their reasonable country of origin inquiry.