The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) closed its comments period over a week ago on rules that would require companies to disclose their use of possible Blood Gold from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Many jeweler comments are now posted online. Even as controversy continues to grow over recent DRC gold shipments smuggled through Kenya and possibly South Africa to Dubai, the comments reveal that several large jewelry associations pushed for loopholes that could allow gold mining to continue to finance conflict in DRC.
The loopholes that these trade groups — Jewelers of America, the Jewelers Vigilance Committee, Manufacturing Jewelers and Suppliers of America, the American Gem Society, and the Fashion Jewelry and Accessories Trade Association — are calling for include: delaying implementation of the SEC rules for two or three years, furnishing disclosure on special reports (rather than “filing” in annual reports), broad exemptions on scrap metals, exemptions for retailers that contract for or have partial control over manufacturing, and allowing companies to just say they are “unable to determine” the relation of their gold to DRC conflict.
On the other hand, it was encouraging to note that a number of jewelery groups and companies such as the Ethical Metalsmiths, Fair Jewelry Action, and Toby Pomeroy weighed in to encourage strong rules on Blood Gold from the DRC, as did dozens of other organizations and companies. These organizations seem more in tune with more than 70 jewelry companies that have signed the Golden Rules and want, amongst other responsible stipulations, to have independent, third party verification that their gold is not coming from areas of armed or militarized conflict.
The SEC rules on DRC Conflict Minerals have the potential to help create an incentive for more peaceful, more responsible small-scale mining in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). They also have the potential to help increase transparency in the gold supply chain and enable jewelers and others to avoid Blood Gold and other dirty gold sources. It is in the interest of the jewelry industry and its associations to have the best transparency and disclosure that the SEC rules can provide so that jewelry companies are not tainted by complicity with Blood Gold.
The SEC is required to establish the final rules in mid-April. I hope the SEC will implement strong rules that will increase transparency in the gold and metals supply chain, and help end violent conflict in the DRC.
- Earthblog about the SEC rules comments of other groups and corporations
- Comments from Jewelers of America, the Jewelers Vigilance Committee, Manufacturing Jewelers and Suppliers of America, the American Gem Society, and the Fashion Jewelry and Accessories Trade Association on Conflict Minerals rules
- Earthworks’ comments to the SEC on conflict minerals
- EARTHWORKS statement and Earthblog on the Dodd-Frank Act
- Conflict minerals