Australian Billionaire Challenges Nintendo on Conflict Minerals

Feb 6, 2014 2:00 PM ET
Campaign: Conflict Minerals

Andrew Forrest takes fight to Nintendo

Andrew Forrest, philanthropist and mining billionaire addressed a long standing issue with  the Japanese gaming tycoon Nintendo on ethical mining regarding Conflict Minerals. The raw materials have accounted for extreme conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo hence the name, as guerilla groups execute sexual terrorism, recruitment of child soldiers and death by the millions.  The grave human rights abuses have raised the attention of what Conflict Minerals are and what their role is in industry supply chains. The minerals, also known as 3TG (Tungsten, Tantalum, Tin, and Gold) are found in anything from electronics to clothing and have raised the attention of global leaders interested in putting an end to the genocide taking place in Africa.

Forrest founded Walk-Free in support of anti-slavery tactics across the globe. The organization has its focus directly on Nintendo as the electronic giant has refused to set a Conflict Minerals program in compliance reporting for Dodd-Frank SEC 1502 Wall Street Reform & Consumer Protection Act.

On May 31, 2014 under Section 1502 of the SEC’s Conflict Minerals Rule, U.S. publicly traded companies will have to file a special disclosure for the 12-month reporting period ending on December 31, 2013. The aim of the rule, mandated by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, is to provide transparency into corporate practices and specifically to reduce funding for armed groups involved in human rights violations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and surrounding countries. Section 1502 compels public disclosure for any issuer whose products are identified as containing one or more of the four conflict minerals (tantalum, tin, tungsten and gold also known as “3TG”) suspected to have originated in the DRC or surrounding countries. Said minerals are found in thousands of products ranging from electronics such as phones, televisions, and computers to jewelry, toothpaste, PVC pipe, and even anti-microbial fabrics. Minerals contained in products that are found to be sourced from the covered countries will trigger a “not found to be conflict free” disclosure, while minerals that are not found to be sourced from the covered countries will trigger a “conflict free” disclosure. Where an Issuer is unable to determine the source of 3TG minerals, an “Undeterminable” classification may be filed along with a Conflict Minerals Report detailing the reasonable and good faith effort to try to determine their origin.

According to the rule, an estimated 5,994 public companies that file with the SEC will have to provide new disclosures. Moreover, approximately 275,000 private companies that are part of issuers’ supply chains will also be expected to provide conflict minerals due diligence to their public customers. Furthermore, a 2011 study by Tulane University, assessed the costs of implementing the Dodd-Frank conflict minerals regulation to be $7.93 billion — more than one hundred times greater than the initial estimate prepared by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of $71.2 million that was later revised to $3 billion to $4 billion.

Stakeholders in the ecosystem of supply chain and regulated materials compliance will be surprised to see the similarities and differences of program progress and supplier profiles across industries. On February 27, a benchmarking webinar hosted by industry experts will offer insight on This benchmarking study will present ACTUAL data, aggregated by industry, to provide insights on:

-Conflict mineral programs in 2013
-Progress to completion of data collection over time
-Incidences of 3TG in the supply chain
-Supplier profiles (by industry and region)
-Challenges incurred in completing the process
-Hurdles of data verification

In order to receive an early copy of the report, register HERE for the first cross-industry benchmarking data on Conflict Minerals.