The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) will meet on Aug. 22 to vote on a controversial new rules requiring companies to disclose payments to governments and whether any of their products use certain African “conflict minerals.” The rules are part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law passed in 2010.
The conflict minerals rule would require companies to disclose whether they use tantalum, tin, gold or tungsten from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The other rule would require oil, gas and mining companies to disclose payments they make to governments, Reuters reported.
U.S. lawmakers in favor of the conflict minerals and resource extraction rules have in recent weeks sought to apply increasing pressure on the SEC to finalize the rules after the agency missed its April 17, 2011, deadline.
On June 22, 58 members of Congress sent a letter to SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro criticizing the agency for the long delay in passing the rule.
"There is no clear reason for the delay," the lawmakers wrote. "It has been nearly 18 months since the proposed rules were issued, and the comment period for both rules closed over a year ago."
The conflict minerals rule has been arguably one of the most controversial rules in the Dodd-Frank law.
As proposed, companies would need to identify if any conflict minerals are used in their products. If the minerals are present, the companies would then need to conduct a due diligence check to track them through the supply chain to their origins.
Companies and business groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have strongly cautioned the SEC to slow down and scale back its proposal.
They say it will be hard to put into practice, as these minerals can be used in minuscule amounts and are almost impossible to track through the numerous layers of the supply chain.