MetalMiner welcomes a guest viewpoint from Brad Brooks-Rubin, Of Counsel at Holland & Hart LLP, on conflict minerals compliance.
Anyone listening to music in 1982 (and at many a nightclub since) knows well the famous dilemma: Should I stay or should I go? Beyond the initial question, as the song goes, there are the consequences: If you stay there will be trouble, but if you go, it will be double.
Although this was not exactly what the late Joe Strummer and the Clash were singing about, this same question and dilemma face companies examining their supply chains in light of Dodd-Frank section 1502, aka the Conflict Minerals Law. On one hand, companies understand that the point of the law is to ensure that purchases of minerals in the eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the Great Lakes region do not support armed rebels or rogue factions of national armies.
So, they may rightly presume, the best approach to the complex task of identifying mineral sources is simply to direct your suppliers (and their suppliers, and their suppliers’ suppliers, and so on) to cease purchases from the DRC and the region. That’s what this is all about, right? Won’t the advocates and policymakers be patting these companies on the back?
Not so fast.
Of course, the difficulties in complying with Section 1502 are understood.
From evaluating all of a company’s products to identify even trace amounts of gold, tantalum, tin, or tungsten, to working with suppliers throughout the supply chain to make a “reasonable country of origin” inquiry, to implementing and reporting on due diligence and associated audits, sourcing from the DRC or the region can be costly, time-consuming, and a seemingly impossible task.
Trouble, in other words.
But, like the song says, leaving now to make compliance cheaper and simpler will only double the trouble.
Editors’ note: The viewpoints, perspectives and/or opinions of guest contributors do not necessarily reflect those of MetalMiner, its sponsors, clients or partners. Contact the author directly here.