Confronting Conflict Minerals

Gary Niekerk

Most environmental professionals don’t hang out with the Wall Street crowd. We don’t typically have a lot of designer suits and six figure bonuses (although I do own  a pair of wing-tipped safety shoes).  However, Wall Street and environmental, health and safety (EHS) are a little more connected these days than you think. What I’m referring to is a piece of legislation buried  in the 800-plus-pages of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, called  “SEC 1502 – Conflict Minerals”.

The intention of SEC 1502 is to increase transparency in the minerals supply chain, with the hopes of reducing the terrible violence in parts of Central Africa related to the minerals trade. This somewhat controversial regulation is garnering  a lot of attention as the final rulemaking is expected in the next few months.

If your company manufactures products where, “conflict minerals (tin, tantalum, tungsten, or gold ) are necessary to the functionality or production” of the product, you could be one of the 5,000 or more public companies the SEC estimates may be impacted by this legislation.

NAEM will be covering the topic at the upcoming  EHS Management Forum on Oct. 19-20, where I’ll talk about Intel’s approach to this complex issue. For more information, please contact our Corporate Social Responsibility team or read the white paper we wrote about trying to achieve a ‘conflict-free’ supply chain.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you. What are you doing to address this important issue? What are some of the unique challenges this legislation will present for your company?


About Gary Niekerk

Gary Niekerk is the Director of Global Citizenship for Intel Corp., where he works on corporate strategy related to sustainability, corporate reputation and stakeholder management. He has spent 25 years working with employees, customers, and stakeholders to protect and build the brands and reputation of some of the world’s leading high-tech companies, including Hewlett-Packard Co., Apple Inc. and Intel Corp.

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