October 4, 2013 – October 11, 2013

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.

SEC Chairwoman Questions Use of SEC’s Role in Conflict Minerals Disclosure

On October 3, 2013, in a lecture given at Fordham Law School, SEC Chairwoman Mary Jo White questioned using the SEC’s disclosure power to accomplish the primary goal of the conflict minerals rule, which is ending violent conflict in the  Democratic Republic of the Congo and surrounding area.

Chairwoman White stated, “[t]hat is not to say that the goals of such mandates are not laudable. Indeed, most are.  Seeking to improve safety in mines for workers or to end horrible human rights atrocities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are compelling objectives, which, as a citizen, I wholeheartedly share. But, as the Chair of the SEC, I must question, as a policy matter, using the federal securities laws and the SEC’s powers of mandatory disclosure to accomplish these goals.”

To read Chairwoman White’s entire lecture, including discussion surrounding the independence of the SEC, please see 14th Annual A.A. Sommer, Jr. Corporate Securities and Financial Law Lecture.

Turning Conflict Minerals Compliance into a Competitive Advantage

PTC Inc., a provider of technology solutions to assist companies with their conflict minerals compliance, sponsored a ChainLink Research white paper titled, “Turning Conflict Minerals Law Compliance Into a Competitive Advantage.”

 As Compliance Week notes, the white paper focuses on:

  • the background and detailed requirements of the conflict minerals rule,
  • a five-step process for achieving organizational compliance,
  • assembling a cross-functional team to address the conflict minerals rule,
  • the need for an automated approach, and
  • integrating conflict minerals compliance with product development and supplier management processes.

National Geographic: Conflict Minerals Photography Essay

In its October 2013 issue, the National Geographic features a conflict minerals photo essay, titled “The Price of Precious.”

PBS sat down with Marcus Bleasdale, the photographer from the National Geographic responsible for the photo essay, and discussed his experience in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Mr. Bleasdale believes that the main culprit behind the poverty ridden DRC and the surrounding area is the lack of strong governance. “The government there is not really in control of the region where the minerals are sourced. And if they are in control it’s a very military led control. Some of those military leaders are maybe not as scrupulous as they should be and they’re extracting a lot of those minerals for their own personal profit.”

Despite the lack of strong governance, Mr. Bleasdale has seen some slight improvement since the late 1990's when he first visited the DRC. Although the use of child labor is still prevalent, he noted that there were a lot more children working in the mines ten to twenty years ago than there are today. In addition, Mr. Bleasdale notes that companies like Intel, Philips and Motorola “are doing a fantastic job on the ground.”