Closing the Conflict Minerals Loop–Ongoing Compliance

By now you’ve heard all you want to hear about complying with the new conflict minerals disclosure rules. You know that public companies that manufacture a product, or contract to manufacture a product, for which a conflict mineral (or its derivative) is necessary to its functionality or production must file a Form SD with the SEC not later than May 31, 2014. The content and scope of that Form SD depend on a number of factors that I won’t repeat here. At this late date, you have presumably already been through the necessary analysis and mapped out your required disclosures, if any. (For more information, see Doug’s Note here, here, here and here.)

The temptation, now that the inaugural process is nearing completion, is to be glad it’s over and forget about it for a year. This is particularly true for companies lucky enough to have determined that no Form SD filing is required.

Unfortunately, a few other matters must be dealt with, regardless of whether you will be filing a Form SD. Keep in mind that business operations are fluid. Product lines change, as do manufacturing processes, suppliers and product uses. The potential for change means that you must have an effective system in place to continually capture all relevant information and then get it into the right hands for disclosure purposes. If you wait until it pops up on a tickler a few weeks before next spring’s filing deadline, it will be too late.

Action steps…

  • Train your relevant employees (for example, business unit heads) to proactively and promptly pass along any changes in operations that could implicate the conflict minerals rules.
  • If your company manufactures or contracts to manufacture products, consider systematizing on an ongoing basis the process for obtaining all necessary information from your suppliers.
  • Update your internal controls to document your conflict minerals compliance process.
  • Update your disclosure controls and procedures to ensure timely production and filing of any necessary disclosures.