The world’s tin supply is expected to remain in deficit for the foreseeable future and some of the largest tin users in the United States may now face an ethical decision of whether or not to describe their products as ‘conflict minerals free’. This follows a court ruling in the U.S that companies are no longer required to report conflict free minerals.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) this week released guidance on conflict minerals reporting rules, following the U.S court decision.

Many of the estimated 6,000 companies that this ruling affects are part of the technology industry that uses tin solder in its products and accounts for around 44 per cent of the world’s tin consumption.

According to an article written in the Wall Street Journal this week, the SEC’s guidance is expected to resolve some of the confusion companies face. A federal appeals court removed part of the rule, citing free speech concerns. The rule requiring companies to say whether their products contained conflict minerals from war-torn regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was not valid. In the court’s ruling, it wasn’t clear what companies were required to say in reports they file to the SEC.

The guidelines released by the SEC have assisted in clearing this confusion for affected companies. The guidelines state that “No company is required to describe its products as ‘DRC conflict free,’ and ‘not been found to be DRC conflict free,’ or ‘DRC conflict undeterminable’.”

The guidelines go on to state that, “If a company voluntarily elects to describe any of its products as ‘DRC conflict free’ in its Conflict Minerals Report, it would be permitted to do so provided it had obtained an independent private sector audit (ISPA) by the rule. Pending further action and ISPA will not be required unless a company voluntarily elects to describe a product as ‘DRC conflict free’ in its Conflict Minerals Report”.

Sources: Wall Street Journal, US Securities and Exchange Commission Public Statement