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Court Ruling Won’t Halt Conflict Minerals Rule, Says SEC

Manufacturers that use African-mined metals that could fund armed groups and human-rights abuses will have to file reports next month disclosing the source of the minerals, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said.

The SEC’s guidance announcement yesterday responds to a U.S. appellate court decision this month that said requiring companies to report whether products are “conflict free” violates their free-speech rights. In its statement, the agency said companies should report the country where the metals were mined without using the language struck down by the court.

SEC Chair Mary Jo White told the House Financial Services Committee yesterday that the agency would ask companies to comply with the rule despite the court’s decision. The SEC was required by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act to write the rule, which applies to gold, tin, tungsten, and tantalum mined in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and nine neighboring countries. The National Association of Manufacturers and other business groups sued to overturn the rule.

The judges “went out of their way to say they did not invalidate the other portions,” White said yesterday. “Clearly there may be things going forward that affect the invalidated piece of that rulemaking, but the rest of it stands on its own.”

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