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Auto Industry Calls for Increased Collaboration on Eve of SEC's First Conflict Minerals Reporting Deadline

With thousands of automotive, electronics and manufacturing companies facing a May 31 deadline to file a Conflict Minerals Report with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) on Friday announced an assessment of industry progress on the issue in the first reporting year, and outlined plans for increased collaboration in the years ahead.

In a recent AIAG survey of more than 550 professionals working on corporate responsibility (CR) in automotive, manufacturing and related industries in 40 countries, conflict minerals — tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold sourced from embattled areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo — was identified as the most significant issue facing the automotive industry this year.

According to the survey, conducted in March, nearly half of companies polled have a policy on conflict minerals reporting — yet only half of those said they would meet the May 31 deadline to file a Conflict Minerals Report with the SEC, as required by law. The survey also revealed that AIAG member companies are more likely to have a conflict minerals policy, and more likely to meet the reporting deadline.

“We’re pleased that AIAG member companies are better prepared to meet the first conflict minerals reporting deadline,” said Tanya Bolden, corporate responsibility program development manager at AIAG. “This confirms that when companies work together with others in the industry, we all reap the benefits. Still, we know more can be done to increase collaboration and efficiency in our ongoing efforts to meet the reporting requirements.”

In response to the survey results, AIAG launched a conflict minerals awareness campaign to accelerate industry action on the issue. It is the latest of AIAG’s industry-leading tools that provide automotive OEMs and suppliers unlimited access to the resources and best practices needed to ensure that global vehicle production does not support armed conflict in central Africa, where conflict minerals are often mined.

“Even though 2013 conflict minerals reports are due, the auto industry needs to keep working on the 2014 reports due in just over a year from now,” said Bolden. “We encourage everyone to look back and assess what’s worked, and make refinements where necessary going forward.”

In the years ahead, AIAG says it will continue to expand its conflict minerals initiative, which includes not only the resources above, but also more robust stakeholder engagement. In 2014 and 2015, AIAG is focusing on accelerating the development of the sub-tier supply base.

“These small companies are ‘mission critical’ to the economic vitality of the automotive industry and the countries in which they do business, because they are the primary employers, taxpayers and innovators,” said J. Scot Sharland, executive director at AIAG. “The impact of the great recession, globalization, growing product complexity, and heightened social and environmental compliance expectations have made uncertainty the new norm for many of these suppliers.”

In February, the Conflict-Free Sourcing Initiative (CFSI) reported that it had validated conflict-free smelters or refiners of all four conflict minerals for the first time in the initiative’s five-year history, and is calling on more smelters and refiners to join the effort to become conflict-free by undergoing CFSI’s conflict minerals audit. CFSI also called on more companies to join the over 120 from seven different industries to already become conflict-free.

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