European Commission Tables Proposal for the Certification of Conflict-Free Minerals

March 11, 2014

On 5 March 2014 the European Commission adopted a proposal for a draft regulation setting up a self-certification system, i.e. a voluntary certification system for importers into the European Union of tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold metal or ore originating from conflict areas. The self-certification requires importers in the EU to exercise a due diligence by monitoring and administering their purchases and sales in line with the five steps of the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Due Diligence Guidance. While the US Dodd-Frank Act Section 1502 covers only conflict minerals from the DR Congo and the adjoining countries, the EU draft regulation is not geographically limited.

The aim is to publish an annual list of “responsible smelters and refiners”. The onus will be put on the importers who will have to demonstrate that they do not contribute to the fuelling of armed conflicts. The importers will be required to pass on due diligence information to downstream purchasers in order to increase transparency.

Non-compliance will result in the competent member states authorities to issue a notice of remedial action, and if such action is deemed inadequate, the authority will issue a non-recognition notice. As a result, non-complying importers, as well as the smelters and refiners in their supply chains, will be removed from the EU list of responsible smelters and refiners.

The European Parliament and the European Council, the EU’s co-legislators, will now examine the Commission’s proposal. This proposal, if adopted, is unlikely to enter into effect before 2015.