We have been talking about conflict minerals for years. And, so have our manufacturing clients. As covered previously in this blog, the conflict minerals laws and regulations are some of the most well known, but least understood laws/regulations that face manufacturers/distributors today.
The stated purpose of conflict mineral laws and regulations were laudable, namely, to prevent companies from engaging in trade that support regional conflicts in the Congo. As many manufacturers will tell you, whether that stated purpose is achievable is questionable at best.
Year after year, manufacturers struggle to get their suppliers to answer questions about the source of the “conflict minerals” (including gold). Although the SEC requires that publicly traded companies document their compliance, the burden of compliance often rests on the smaller privately held manufacturers that are in the supply chain.
In 2017, President Trump suggested that he might suspend the regulations, but no executive order was signed. In late September, an interesting analysis was published by the Washington Post. The analysis not only suggests that the conflict minerals law has not curbed violence in the Congo, but that the violence has increased. We will all be watching the administration over the next few years to see if we have seen the end of the conflict minerals law as we know it.