(September 21, 2010) — The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is drafting new reporting requirements on the use of conflict minerals. "These new reporting requirements could have a significant impact on the entire electronics industry supply chain, much like the lead-free requirements of RoHS," according to Mikel Williams, chairman of the IPC Government Relations Committee and president and CEO of DDi Corp.
Within the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, signed into law by President Obama on July 21, 2010, are new requirements for manufacturers of products containing tin (Sn), tantalum (Ta), gold (Au), tungsten (W), or any other "conflict metals." Specifically, section 1502 of the new law imposes direct SEC reporting requirements on any publicly traded companies whose products contain metals derived from conflict minerals. Conflict minerals are mined in areas such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which provide revenue to groups committing violence in the DRC. Companies will be required to submit a due diligence plan with their annual SEC report. The SEC has 270 days to finalize the regulations and implement the requirements.
"If the electronics industry thinks that the SEC regulations will only impact publicly traded companies, they need to think again," said Williams. The regulations, Williams explained, will flow down from the publicly traded companies through the entire supply chain from the OEMs to the solder manufacturers and everyone in between. Ultimately, while this is targeted to reporting, it will undoubtedly impact supplier selection throughout the chain, as public companies now will be responsible for detailed knowledge about the location of source materials affected by the new regulations. Today, companies have no mechanism through which to comply with this requirement.
"These are serious requirements with significant repercussions," said Fern Abrams, IPC director of government relations and environmental policy. She explained that the association is gathering comments from industry leadership to submit to the SEC. In addition, IPC is working to modify the IPC-1752A, "Materials Declaration Management," standard to address the supply chain’s need to exchange data on metals derived from conflict minerals.
Finally, IPC Solder Products Value Council (SPVC) has issued a position statement which “supports governments, non-governmental organizations (NGO) and industry groups in their efforts to eliminate trade of ‘conflict metals,’ especially mined tin from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The IPC SPVC believes that based on solder manufacturers’ position in the value chain, smelters and mines are in the best position to develop and implement a system to ensure mineral traceability from the exporter back to the mine site and to develop chain of custody data. Furthermore, the IPC SPVC supports ITRI’s (formerly known as the International Tin Research Institute) efforts to achieve that goal.”
For more information, visit www.ipc.org/conflict-metals-activities. In addition, IPC will host a webinar, “Future Regulations on Conflict Metals: It Can and Will Impact the Electronics Industry,” on Friday, October 8, 2010, 10 to 11 am Central time. To register, visit www.ipc.org/conflict-metals. To provide input or to be kept up-to-date on regulatory developments, contact Abrams at [email protected] or +1 703-522-0225.