In March 2014, the European Commission presented a draft regulation issuing an EU voluntary self-certification scheme for EU importers of tin, tantalum and tungsten, their ores, and gold stemmed from conflict affected and high-risk areas. This regulation is not yet implemented.
The new legislation has the purpose to prevent the trading of conflict minerals and to increase responsible sourcing of minerals. The legislation is aimed at companies importing and trading minerals, that are domiciled in the European Union. The scope of the legislation is worldwide and aimed at the responsible sourcing of minerals in any resource-rich country.
The legislation is thought to take effect in 2015.
The EU’s importers obligations
As the Regulation is voluntary, the importers have to choice to opt for the self-certification process as stated in the EU rule in order to be considered as “responsible importers”. They will then have to undertake all steps and measures in conformity with the OECD Due Diligence Guidance, which means:
- Implementing and setting-up a management system to be able to trace the minerals from the mining to the purchase;
- Performing a proper risk management assessment and implement a strategy to mitigate the risks and if necessary suspend trade;
- Performing third party independent audits;
- Disclosing all relevant information to their commercial partners and the public, as well as the Member State competent authorities.
The data disclosed will then be used to draft a list of responsible smelters and refiners that will be published by the European Union. The Member State competent authority will conduct checks and controls and may carry out on-site inspections. If an importer does not comply with the self-certification regulation, the competent authority can send a notice of non-compliance.
Commercial and public pressure, as well as EU specific incentives shall make companies willing to adhere to the regulation. EU Incentives shall include public procurements incentives, financial support for SME’s to perform due diligence, promotion of the certification scheme and providing visibility to the importers’ who are committed to implement the rule.
The EU new legislation is in line with the regulation of several member states such as Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and the UK which had already taken legal steps in this domain.
For further information, please consult the European Commission Proposal 2014/0059 (COD).