As demands for conflict minerals reporting on the global supply chain continue to increase, AIAG held its fifth annual briefing to help members gain insights from thought leaders, OEMs, and suppliers. Conflict Minerals Industry Briefing V — a three-hour event on August 2, 2016, that was repeated in morning and afternoon sessions at AIAG’s headquarters in Southfield, Michigan — provided attendees with an update on industry strategies and best practices, IPSA audits, and smelter engagement activities.
Several questions were posed to the speakers following the event.
Question for Hamlin Metzger of Best Buy: “You spoke about becoming more engaged with upstream programs such as ITSCI. Is this something Best Buy currently does, and if so, how do you suggest becoming more involved?”
Answer: Best Buy is not working directly with upstream in-region programs such as Solutions for Hope, as we have chosen to focus our resources on supplier training and smelter engagement. That said, I would highly encourage companies to look into upstream programs as a means to more directly affect change in the DRC. In terms of a place to start, I would recommend the Public Private Alliance for Responsible Minerals Trade.
Question for Leah Butler of CFSI: “Of the smelters that have been audited and passed compliance — but now their status has expired — do those smelters get priority to have another audit?”
Answer: We prioritize all smelters whose “valid until” dates are approaching. We work with smelters two to three months before this date to ensure a timely audit. In some cases, however, a smelter may have ceased operation, and we must attain the necessary documentation to disposition them as not eligible.
Question for Leah Butler of CFSI: “About 228/321 smelters…why 321? How are 321 smelters identified, and can you estimate how long it will be until (1) all smelters in the world are identified and (2) there will be enough compliant smelters so that most OEMs can source only clean minerals?
Answer: We work through lists of thousands of alleged smelters to identify those that are legitimate, meaning they are in operation and meet the definitions of a smelter/refiner as outlined in our protocol. We have a team that reviews every entity and determines whether or not they are eligible according to our criteria. While we feel we are very close to having identified most of the smelters and refiners in the world, new ones appear daily, and therefore identifying all of them is a moving target. Secondly, there are currently 231/321 compliant smelters and refiners. We hope to continue to increase these numbers but cannot predict when every smelter or refiner will undergo one of the third-party audit schemes.
New Guidance Released
In January 2016, AIAG released the Guide for Responding to the CM Reporting Templates – Version 4.1. Members of AIAG’s Conflict Minerals Work Group developed this template assessment to unify the expected quality of supplier responses to the Conflict Minerals Reporting Template (CMRT), which was formerly known as the EICC-GeSI Template. Currently, the Work Group is updating the document, with launch anticipated in October.
For more information on AIAG’s activities and initiatives in conflict minerals, visit www.aiag.org.