The federal government wants disclosures about the use of conflict minerals, and they want them now. And after a federal appeals court ruling on May 14, companies will have no choice but to comply with the government’s wishes.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has denied an emergency request from business groups to delay a June 2 filing deadline for conflict mineral disclosures. Under the guidelines, companies will be forced to file to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) a number of different reports tied to four minerals primarily found in the Democratic Republic of the Congo: tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold.
The business groups asking for a delay — the National Association of Manufacturers, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable — face this defeat in appeals court just one month after a victory to strike down part of the SEC’s guidelines. On April 14, the same court ruled that provisions within the guidelines that the companies must publicly disclose the use of conflict minerals were against the First Amendment. The court said that the stricken parts of the SEC guidelines unfairly compelled companies to “confess blood on its hands.”
As a result of the earlier ruling, the business groups argued in this latest case that the SEC’s regulations now make “little sense as presently designed.” They also argued that the regulations would pose significant costs while not actually advancing the SEC’s mission in limiting conflict minerals.
However, the SEC argued that the regulations and deadline should proceed as planned. The SEC said that the companies still needed to determine whether any conflict minerals were necessary for their product’s production, and then determine where those materials were obtained. Even without the stricken reporting aspects, the SEC said, the regulations still had use in encouraging companies to exercise due diligence.
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