Dodd-Frank's Conflict Minerals Provision Exposes Congo Connections

Though the financial services industry faces the brunt of the modifications stipulated in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the minerals industry has also been called out in two separate provisions. The extractive industries must be more transparent in reporting payments it makes to governments. [See Provision in Financial Reform Bill Calls for Greater Transparency in Extractive Industries.] But companies using minerals that originate in the Democratic Republic of the Congo must also be more forthright about how and where they get those minerals.

Mineral sales are a key source of funding for violence that continues to plague the Congo in the wake of what is sometimes referred to as Africa's World War. In an effort to combat these human rights violations, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) added several new reporting requirements, inlcuding:

  • A list of due diligence measures taken to ensure minerals came from a conflict-free source;
  • A description of any products manufactured that contain conflict materials, such as the tin used to solder circuit boards in cell phones and computers; and
  • The facilities used to process the minerals.

The provision states that a product can be designated "conflict free" if it doesn't contain or use minerals that in any way benefit armed groups in the Congo or neighboring countries. The reports will be available to the public.

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