SEC sets date for long-awaited vote on 'conflict minerals' rules

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) will vote in August on controversial rules requiring extensive reporting from companies using ‘conflict minerals’ mined from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), said the organization in a statement posted in its website Monday.

The regulations, introduced in December 2010, would require companies to report to the SEC each year whether they use tantalum, tin, gold or tungsten in the DRC. It also would require them to disclose payments made to overseas governments to develop natural gas.

The agency will also consider a rule required by the 2012 JOBS Act lifting advertising restrictions on some companies going public.

The SEC has been under pressure from Democrats to act on the measures, as shows a June 22 letter to the SEC from House representatives:

Conflict minerals and non-transparent payments for natural resource extraction continue to be a weight on developing nations’ growth and are a risk to investors and the public. Worse, continued delay undermines efforts in the DRC to make the mining industry more transparent and to diminish the link between minerals and the funding of brutal violence carried out by warlords.

Groups including the National Association of Manufacturers, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Retail Industry Leaders Association have expressed concern about the rules. They believe they would accumulate burdens on companies trying to meet the requirements, while doing little to actually lessen woes in the DRC.

International watchdog Oxfam even sued the SEC in May over the delay in implementing the rule.  The so-called Dodd-Frank Act said should have be completed by April 16, 2011.

The polemic rules are available here