The SEC voted yesterday to impose a new rule forcing companies to reveal their use of so-called "blood minerals" ... eventually. The rule, which was mandated by the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, requires companies to disclose their use of gold, tin, tungsten, and tantalum mined in and near the Democratic Republic of Congo, the LA Times reports. Those metals are key to electronics manufacturing, and their sale fuels armed factions in the war-torn DRC. Companies will also have to disclose payments to governments related to oil and gas extraction.
But lobbyists objected so strenuously to the rule that the SEC made numerous concessions, like giving companies until May 31, 2014, to make their first disclosure. Even then, for as long as another four years companies will be able to say that they simply couldn't determine whether their mineral buys were fueling violence. Retail lobbyists, meanwhile, won an exemption for big stores like Walmart and Target that excludes store-brand goods made by third parties, the Wall Street Journal reports. The SEC pegged the cost of compliance as up to $4 billion initially, and as much as $609 million each year for the 6,000 companies affected; those firms argue the rule will give foreign companies a competitive edge.