September 22, 2017

Securities Exchange Commission open to softening stance on ‘blood’ minerals

Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) in the USA, widely considered as the world’s most powerful financial services regulatory body, is reviewing its 2014 Guidance on the Conflict Minerals Rule, according to a statement from the organisation’s Acting Chairperson, Michael S. Piwowar.

Piwowar said he directed the SEC staff to establish whether the 2014 Guidance on Conflict Minerals Rule was still appropriate and whether it was due for any additional relief.

Piwowar said the SEC had arrived at the decision after realising that even embargoing minerals from conflict stricken countries had done little to bring stability to countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo, not least helped mining companies involved in ‘legitimate’ activities.

“While visiting Africa last year, I heard first-hand from the people affected by this misguided rule. The disclosure requirements have caused a de facto boycott of minerals from portions of Africa, with effects far beyond the Congo-adjacent region. Legitimate mining operators are facing such onerous costs to comply with the rule that they are being put out of business.

“It is also unclear that the rule has in fact resulted in any reduction in the power and control of armed gangs or eased the human suffering of many innocent men, women, and children in the Congo and surrounding areas. Moreover, the withdrawal from the region may undermine U.S. national security interests by creating a vacuum filled by those with less benign interests,” he recounted.

Considering the facts on the ground, it was essential to gather views from interested persons on all aspects of the rule and guidance, Piwowar concluded.


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