COVID-19 in Conflict Minerals Reports — Update

As we discussed in a previous post, early in 2019, some companies were expressing concern that, because of the impacts of the shut-downs associated with COVID-19, certain of their suppliers might not be able to provide responses to their conflict minerals inquiries in a timely manner.  They worried that their conflict minerals disclosures for calendar year 2019 could be less robust as a result.

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Impact of COVID-19 Shut Downs on Conflict Minerals Reporting

You will recall that on March 25, 2020, to address certain challenges created by COVID-19, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued the Order that extended the filing periods for certain public company reporting obligations under the Securities Exchange Act.  The relief granted by the Order applied to specific Securities Exchange Act reporting requirements.  However, Section 13(p) of the Securities Exchange Act, which requires the filing of conflict minerals disclosures on Form SD, was not covered by the Order. In response to an inquiry we made to SEC staff, we were told that the SEC was considering whether to provide that same extension for the Form SD filings.

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Form SD Conflict Minerals Report Filing Deadline Unchanged

As of March 26, 2020, the filing deadline for Form SD’s is unchanged from the May 31 deadline included in the text of the Conflict Minerals Rule (and in the instructions to the Form SD).  Note: because May 31, 2020 is a Sunday, the filing deadline for the Form SD’s for reporting year 2019 is Monday, June 1, 2020.

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EU Conflict Minerals Regulation Flowchart — Launching Today!

We are pleased to announce the launch of our EU Conflict Minerals Regulation Flowchart, which promises to be a valuable tool for those charged with compliance with the EU conflict minerals regulation.

In 2017, the EU adopted its conflict minerals regulation, which is intended to help businesses identify and address the risk that 3TGs (tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold) in their products are linked to adverse impacts in conflict-affected or high-risk areas around the world. The due diligence and disclosure obligations of the EU regulation commence on January 1, 2021. However, there will be consequences to having even indirect relationships with non-conformant smelters and refiners. So, it is wise to analyze your supply chains before the obligations take effect and then actively manage your supply chain relationships to reduce the costs of compliance and to minimize any negative impacts on your business.

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EU Conflict Minerals Regulation – Step 1: Check Your Customs Declarations

While many companies are working to complete their due diligence and prepare conflict minerals disclosure for their SEC filings due May 31, others are considering whether they will be subject to the EU conflict minerals regulation when its due diligence and disclosure obligations take effect on 1 January 2021.

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EU Conflict Minerals Regime

You’re no doubt working hard to complete your due diligence analysis and finalize your Form SD (and Conflict Minerals Report) as required by the US Conflict Minerals Rule.  But, around the corner is another conflict minerals regime that could impact your business — the EU Conflict Minerals Regulation.  The EU’s due diligence and disclosure obligations do not take effect until 2021, but if you are a Union importer, there are things you will want to do before that date to minimize your compliance costs and avoid possible disruptions to your supply chains.

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Costs of Conflict Minerals Compliance (1 of 3) – Why lower than expected?

The out-of-pocket costs of compliance with the SEC conflict minerals rule have been lower than those originally estimated by industry and by the SEC. But, it’s not because the original estimates were over-stated or inflated.  And, these lower than expected out-of-pocket costs don’t mean that business’ concerns about compliance were misplaced.  These lower costs have resulted mostly (but not completely) from tools and approaches developed by industry.

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Financial CHOICE Act Passes in the House — Would Repeal SEC Conflict Minerals Rule

Today, on June 8, 2017, the US House of Representatives passed the Financial CHOICE Act by a vote of 233 to 186.  The bill was sponsored by House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas). The headline of the bill is that it would reverse much of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

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EU Conflict Minerals Regulation — Finally Published in the Official Journal!

At long last, the EU Conflict Minerals Regulation was published today in the Official Journal of the European Union.  The EU Conflict Minerals Regulation 2017 (as published) will enter into force 20 days after publication (June 8, 2017) and take effect 1 month after that (July 8, 2017).

The effective date is January 2021, but companies would be wise to start thinking about how the regulation will impact them.  There are some significant consequences for importers that deal with non-compliant smelters or refiners — including required consultations and third-party audits.  These consultations and audits will be time-consuming and expensive.  So, importers will be motivated to manage their supply chains so that they can avoid these additional burdens. Those who have been working on conflict minerals compliance under the US rule know that it takes some time to examine and successfully manage the make-up of a company’s supply chains.  So, don’t wait to examine this final regulation more closely.

Conflict Minerals Rule — Will It Stay or Will It Go?

With only 19 days left before the SECs Form SD filing deadline, there is still a lot of talk about consequences of the SECs April 7, 2017 Statement (“April 2017 Statement”).  In that statement, the SEC staff indicated that it would not recommend enforcement action to the Commission if a company that is otherwise required to file a conflict minerals report as an exhibit to its Form SD does not file that conflict minerals report. Filers have been considering what the April 2017 Statement means for them and whether they will make any changes to their filings based on it.

In a small sampling, our quick review of the 31 calendar year 2016 Form SD filings made as of May 11, 2017 shows that 13 filed Form SDs only, 18 included conflict minerals reports as exhibits, and none appear to have omitted their conflict minerals reports based on the April 2017 Statement.

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