SEC Roundtable: October 18, 2011
The SEC held a roundtable in Washington, DC on October 18 for invited guests to give testimony regarding the proposed rules for the conflict minerals provision of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act. Two panels discussed topics ranging from what is covered to reporting requirements. Representatives from Boeing, GE, and Kraft were present; from the jewelry industry David Bouffard (Signet/Sterling Jewelers), Michael Reiss (precious metals consultant), and Yedwa Simelane (Anglo Gold Ashanti) were present. Bouffard promoted the idea of a phased in approach for gold since the OECD due diligence guidelines have not yet been completed for gold. This position received substantial support from participants. Simelane argued that gold has a far more complex supply chain leading SEC staff to question whether gold should be treated differently. SEC staff asked how the phrase “necessary to the functionality of the product” should be treated. Some said Dodd-Frank addresses conflict minerals, not the products that contain them. SEC also asked if “reasonable country of origin inquiry” should be defined better. Bouffard suggested an “indeterminate” category, for recycled minerals and minerals whose origin cannot be accurately established.
SEC staff reopened the comment period until November 1 due to the discussion that occurred at the roundtable. The Jeweler’s Vigilance Committee (JVC) submitted comments pursuant to the SEC request, with Jeweler’s of America (JA), MJSA, the American Gem Society, and FJATA as signatories. The comments emphasize the complex nature of the gold market, the need for a phased in approach due to the lack of OECD due diligence guidelines for gold, and that recycled gold should be treated differently than newly-mined gold.