The SEC's Delayed Rule-Making and Implications for Corporate Conflict Minerals Reports

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) failed to issue a final rule on conflict minerals regulations before the end of 2011, and companies still await clear guidance on the scope of Section 1502 and the nature of the relevant reporting requirements. In an announcement regarding "upcoming activity" related to the implementation of Dodd-Frank, the SEC has now indicated that the final rule for Section 1502 will be adopted between January and June 2012. Notably, the SEC’s announcement indicates that “this is an estimated timeline and may be subject to change.” The final rule was originally scheduled to be issued no later than April 15, 2011.

The Conflict Minerals Report Requirement

Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act requires companies that utilize tin, tungsten, tantalum, and gold to conduct and disclose due diligence on their supply chains in order to identify whether the those minerals originated in the Democratic Republic of Congo (“DRC”) or adjoining countries. If an issuer either determines that its conflict minerals originated in the DRC countries, or cannot conclude that the conflict minerals did not originate in the DRC countries, the issuer will be required to disclose this information in its annual report. The issuer must then furnish a Conflict Minerals Report (“CMR”) as an exhibit to the annual report, and must disclose the Internet address at which this exhibit is available.

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