Ok, we’d hoped that would catch your attention.

Before you accuse us of being male chauvinists (we are no such thing!), it doesn’t matter whether you’re a man or a woman – if you’re working for companies that source different metal products, all that matters is that you know how best to comply with the conflict minerals rule, inside and out.

Conflict Minerals conferenceSo with just ONE WEEK LEFT to register for our unprecedented one-day conference on the topic, here are a few questions you may have that we can answer:

Q:  Won’t this SEC Conflict Minerals Rule be overturned anyway? I thought the National Association for Manufacturers brought a winnable lawsuit against the SEC…

A: Don’t count on it, bub. While NAM has challenged the rule, chances are not good that the rule will be overturned. MetalMiner recommends that companies continue on the path of planning and developing implementation solutions, as many of the experts we have spoken to do not feel the legal case will actually change the reporting obligation on behalf of publicly traded companies.

Q: All right, my company doesn’t really have a Conflict Minerals compliance process yet…where the heck do I start?

A: Don’t worry, you’re not alone. However, do you have accurate records covering whom to contact (not only name and location, but also personal email and direct phone number information) for every supplier you have used over the past 18 months? Gathering that info may be a good place to start. Alternatively, if you only source a handful of parts, and you know they contain at least traces of tin, tungsten, tantalum or gold, you can undertake a part-centric approach.

Q: How can my company efficiently track this process and streamline my whole supply chain?

A: Thomas Kase, the lead analyst for our sister site Spend Matters, is all over it. One word: technology. More words – here’s what you have to look at, according to Thomas:

  • 3rd Party Enrichment – parent-child linkages, insights & validations
  • Contracts – what you have committed to on the sell-side
  • Customers – what you are about to commit to on the sell-side
  • Inform, Train, Document – across all areas, internal and external
  • Products – and components, sub-components and ingredients to gradually audit your way to the source (certify your entire supply chain, not just your suppliers)
  • Sourcing – early and full visibility to the sourcing process and team to enable early upstream correction
  • Suppliers (i.e, your vendors) – their locations, parents, and subsidiaries, which individuals to engage with at each level, etc.

At Conflict Minerals EDGE, Thomas will present how various players in the technology solutions sphere, “from ERPs to point solutions and modules from suite providers, can get the job done.” The MetalMiner and Spend Matters team will also address what you should consider doing at the same time as you roll out a Conflict Minerals compliance initiative.

Q: Can I still register??!?!?!

A: You bet. Click here.

Q: But what if I can’t make it to Chicago on May 6?

A: MetalMiner has the most comprehensive conflict minerals resource section for manufacturers. Look for the “Conflict Minerals” tab on the top right side of our site!

“Do you know you source conflict minerals (tin, tungsten, tantalum, gold)?”


“Do you know what you must do almost exactly one year from now?”


Yeah, these people aren’t ready either:

Source: IHS

That sample of electronics industry managers surveyed by IHS isn’t alone – in fact, if those in the electronics industry are behind, what does that say for the rest of us? Scary.

Here’s a follow-up poll, from EBN Network (a site covering the electronics industry supply chain):

Source: EBN Network

FULL DISCLOSURE: The one respondent who is “done and cracking the Champagne” – that’s me. I had to vote to see the results. (And I do always fancy myself cracking Champagne.) But in essence, not only is no one done; very few have even begun.

We at MetalMiner have known this for a while, and that’s exactly why we’re in the business of helping manufacturers become compliant.

How do we do that already? Check out our killer white-papers:

Need tangible tools, templates or solutions? Get them at our upcoming one-day conference:

Details and Registration

Conflict Minerals conference


Continued from Part One.

So while the degree of risk associated with the supply of each metal can be debated in broad terms, the layman can see how a country deprived of access to a ready supply of material would have problems maintaining a military the size of the United States’.

As an article in Proedgewire points out, President Obama’s fiscal year 2014 budget request includes $615 billion in military spending, but is largely silent on key strategic and critical material programs.

The US has operated a strategic reserve and a few metals such as tungsten, germanium and beryllium are said to be sufficiently covered by existing stockpiles to not be at risk, but others such as antimony, tantalum and bismuth would require significant stockpiles to safeguard supply.

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Last week, MetalMiner ran a story examining the import and export trends for tantalum. The author discussed the skyrocketing number of tantalum imports compared to falling US exports.

As a follow-up commentary to that guest post from our friends at Zepol, we’d argue the bigger story involves the month-to-month trends of imports (and not so much of exports) – and specifically the time period before and after the August 22, 2012, SEC conflict minerals rule promulgation.

According to Chris Grove, director of communications at Commerce Resources, a junior tantalum mining firm: “In Q1 2013, we became aware of a company in China that stopped selling material to the US…we understood that their feedstock did not comply with the conflict minerals rules.” In terms of the yearly import trends reported on MetalMiner, Grove said, “to be honest, the story’s trends make sense through the eighth month of 2012 (Ed. note: that Chinese imports increased), but this can’t be the story post-Aug. 22,” given the new rules.

“I would expect to see that pie graph shift quite significantly with China looking a lot different,” Grove suggested, “but the real question we have to ask is, has the country of origin changed along with the quantities?” Grove expects a significant drop in 2013 imports from China. If no data supports that then, “the tantalum industry has found a way around the ruling.”

And therein lies the rub.

RELATED: Do you source tantalum? Do you know how to comply with SEC Conflict Minerals rule? Check out Conflict Minerals EDGE.

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MetalMiner interviewed Jay Celorie, Global Program Manager at Hewlett-Packard and active participant in the EICC® (Electronic Industry Citizen Coalition) and GeSI® (Global e-Sustainability Initiative), regarding MetalMiner’s white paper, “The Definitive Guide to Conflict Minerals Compliance for Manufacturers.” Jay shared some of his thoughts on some of the key issues around conflict minerals, our paper and various approaches.

This portion of the interview continues from Part One, available here.

On Tin, Tungsten and Gold Supply Chains

“The electronics industry has been successful in recruiting many of the tantalum smelters to join the CFS Program. This was accomplished in part for many reasons.

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Neon-Alphabet_Study-O-Portable3TG, OECD, EICC, SEC, CFS, DRC…

Is this alphabet soup washing over you, scalding your skin, blinding your eyes?

We know how it feels. That’s why we’ve put together the definitive one-day conference for manufacturing professionals who source tin, tungsten, tantalum or gold-containing metals and materials – to answer all your conflict minerals compliance questions:


Taking place at the Hotel Sax in downtown Chicago, from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM (CDT), this conference focuses on in-depth solutions, not just idle chatter and boring PowerPoint presentations.


Specific implementation tools, including

  • Checklists
  • Project plans
  • Templates
  • Technology maps and decision guides

Not to mention intimate discussions with the industry’s leading voices in conflict minerals compliance.


Download our recent free whitepapers:

Register NOW: Conflict Minerals EDGE

We recently caught up with Jay Celorie, Global Program Manager at Hewlett-Packard and active participant in the EICC® (Electronic Industry Citizen Coalition) and GeSI® (Global e-Sustainability Initiative), regarding MetalMiner’s white paper, “The Definitive Guide to Conflict Minerals Compliance for Manufacturers.” 

Intro: Sending an Economic Signal Toward Responsible Sourcing

A simple way to think about conflict minerals – and complying with SEC rules – is making sure that your economic signal is directed toward responsible sourcing. The EICC and GeSI organizations have provided a tool (the reporting Template) and a program (the CFS Program) to enable any company to accomplish this task.

From an industry perspective, we are focused on these efforts – the CFS Program, which validates conflict-free smelters, and the common reporting Template – a common data format to identify smelters in a company’s supply chain. Companies need to ask their suppliers to use these to identify their smelters and then ask those smelters to get on the CFS list.

If they are not on the CFS list, they must understand their customers may switch to smelters who are on the CFS list. Within the next few years, we expect to have a critical mass of CFS smelters and refiners for all four metals (tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold) that will enable electronics companies (at a minimum) to confirm they are sourcing conflict-free.

Below, Jay Celorie shared some of his thoughts on some of the key issues around conflict minerals, our paper and various approaches.

Read more

MetalMiner, in conjunction with The Elm Consulting Group International, has just issued a new white paper that examines how downstream organizations (companies from smelter down to OEM) have begun to implement the new conflict minerals compliance requirements.

The authors analyze the OECD Cycle 3 Final Report, “Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk.”

What Makes This Analysis Different?

  • The paper covers the practical issues involved with actual conflict minerals compliance programs. For example, the analysis discusses the growing consensus around various EICC/GeSI initiatives, particularly the Conflict-Free Smelter Program, along with the reporting template.
  • It also highlights some of the early findings around how companies have gone about identifying and gathering data from suppliers, as well as the challenges around validating supplier responses to questionnaires and templates.
  • It features how companies have taken a flexible approach to program design.

One of the more significant early findings involves the lack of overlap between REACH/RoHS regulatory compliance programs and conflict minerals implementation programs. The early pilot results suggest companies will find little to leverage in existing regulatory compliance programs.

The actual OECD report appears here. The OECD paper, 85 pages long, provides a detailed discussion and explanation of the pilot program. The white paper issued by MetalMiner and The Elm Consulting Group contains 10 pages of analysis and key takeaways on the OECD report.

Download the FREE MetalMiner/Elm Consulting Group report:

The Economist covered an industrial development in a recent article entitled “A Tantalising Prospect” that would catch the eye of anyone remotely interested in the metal industry.

The process described effectively allows the reduction of high-melting-point metal ores such as titanium, tantalum, and potentially other expensive metallic elements including neodymium, tungsten and vanadium, from the oxide to the metal in powder form.

The process is a type of electrolysis, but rather than hold the metal oxides in liquid form, it holds them as metal powders in a liquid salt at much lower temperatures and hence requires much lower energy inputs than would be the case if they were reduced in the liquid state.

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Below is an excerpt from MetalMiner’s recently published white paper, “The Definitive Guide to Conflict Minerals Compliance for Manufacturers.” If your company uses, say, HRC steel in its products, you should download this paper.

Another question raised by the SEC rules involves the purchase of what we might deem “vanilla commodities,” such as steel HRC (hot rolled coil), from mills that also produce tinplate. (Publicly traded integrated steel producers that produce tinplate are subject to the SEC conflict minerals rules).

Does an OEM buying vanilla HRC from a tinplate producer (e.g. US Steel, ArcelorMittal, Severstal, etc.) need to verify that the steel producer is certified conflict-free, or can the OEM effectively ignore that part of the due diligence process since HRC doesn’t contain tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold (3Ts/G)?

The matter becomes more complicated if the implementation 
of the conflict-free program on the part of the OEM involves what we would term this “supplier-centric” approach, as we have described, vs. a “part/product-centric” approach.

Download the complete paper for free.

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