Non-Metallic Conflict Minerals: Is You In Or Is You Out?

We recently presented at the EMS Management Council Meeting – IPC TechSummit and were fortunate to sit in on  legal updates to the SEC conflict minerals rule from Keller & Heckman’s Eric Gotting.  Of course, he also spent time discussing his firm’s letter to the SEC concerning non-metallic forms of 3TG, which we have discussed in past articles.  In his presentation he brought up a point we think is particularly interesting.

According to the position reflected in the letter, tin, tungsten, tantalum or gold in non-metallic form (such as a chemical formulation) are not considered conflict minerals as defined by the law and final release.  The letter goes on to state that users of the non-metallic forms are not subject to reporting to the SEC.

But it ain’t that simple cuz the tale don’t end there… (I hope my mother the former English professor doesn’t read that).

Suppliers of non-metallic forms of 3TG who are relying on this interpretation will tell their customers they are out of scope and therefore have no reason to provide RCOI/due diligence information.  And in some cases, that may be deemed acceptable.  But what if the customer converts the chemical back to metallic form (such as producing gold electroplating from gold salts)?  Is the user of the chemical still out because they were out already?  Or are they now back in even though they were out beforehand?  Sounds like a comedy skit from the past that still brings belly laughs.

And who will be relying on this unofficial position?  I don’t know (third base).

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