January 24, 2014 - January 31, 2014

The summaries provided in this Weekly Recap do not necessarily represent the views of Squire Sanders (US) LLP and should not be deemed to be endorsements of them. The Recap is intended to be a compilation of articles and events to encourage discussion within the conflict minerals community and to keep our readers updated on the most recent developments.

EICC/GeSI Announce First Conflict-Free Tungsten Smelter

According to a press releaseGlobal Tungsten & Powders Corp. (GTP), a manufacturer of tungsten powders, became the first tungsten smelter to become compliant under the EICC/GeSI Conflict Free Smelter program.

Michael Rohwer, Program Director of the Conflict-Free Sourcing Initiative, stated, “[t]he recent validation of the first conflict-free tungsten smelter by our audit means we can now provide companies with information on conflict-free smelters or refiners of all four conflict minerals. This information is vital to support companies to make responsible choices about conflict minerals sourcing.”

It appears GTP is still the only conflict-free tungsten smelter. As of January 9, 2014, five (5) other Tungsten Industry Conflict Minerals Council members were progressing toward conflict-free smelter validation. To learn more about the announcement, please see the EICC/GeSI press release.

Is Australia the Next Country to Adopt a Conflict Minerals Rule?

In an article titled The Corporate Battle Over Conflict MineralsDr. Holly Cullen, Winthrop Professor of Law at the University of Western Australia, expressed doubt that “the [Australian Securities Exchange] or other Australian corporate regulatory bodies have the resources and capacity to enforce rules comparable to those in the US.”

According to the article, many Australian mining companies have mining projects in Africa, but “there is not the same urgency to address the issue among mining companies as there is among consumer electronics companies.”

If Australia were to adopt a conflict minerals rule, Dr. Cullen cautioned against a heavy-handed rule that may discourage investment in Africa.

Seminar Addresses Impact of Conflict Minerals Rule on Jewelry Business

A seminar titled, Conflict Mineral Legislation in the Europe and the United States: How It Impacts Upon Both the Domestic and Export Jewellery Business, was held during the VICENZAORO Winter trade fair.

Corrado Facco, Managing Director of Fiera di Vicenza, an organizer of shows, meeting and events centered around jewelry, observed that if jewelry companies plan on exporting their jewelry to the United States, they will likely be subject to the conflict minerals rule because “quite a significant percentage of the jewellery traded in the United States will end up in the display cases of publicly traded companies.”

Philip Olden of Signet Jewelers, a large specialty retail jeweler, further commented on the impact of the conflict minerals rule in the jewelry business, “If you are not able to demonstrate that you can meet our requirements, we will not be able to buy from you.”

Walk Free Continues Publicity Effort Against Nintendo

Walk Free, a non-profit organization, released its latest petition urging Nintendo to make the names of the smelters in its supply chain public and commit to make a conflict-free product in the next year.

The petition reads, “While Intel and many other electronics companies are making moves to ensure they’re no longer part of the violent cycle of conflict in the Congo, Nintendo – the world’s largest manufacturer of video game consoles – lags behind.”

As of February 3, 2014, approximately 32,400 people signed the latest petition.