It’s the end of March, and there’s still some snow on the ground here in NYC – both in the streets and in Central Park. But it doesn’t look as if we’ve any more coming anytime soon. But, these days, who knows.
Last month I wrote a little about Dodd-Frank and conflict minerals. And said I’d keep my eyes open for any further developments. As I mentioned, companies still need to comply with the SEC’s conflict minerals reporting rule. And disclosures for the 2016 reporting period remain due on May 31.
According to reports here, however, “[a] recent draft Presidential Memorandum indicates that the White House may seek to temporarily waive the requirements of the conflict minerals rule”1 and evinces the reasons why. But, as has been the case before with “leaked” and/or official material from the administration, since it appears to raise more questions than it answers, it’s probably not worth pondering on for too long. In addition, nobody seems to know when a/the “final” version might be forthcoming. Suffice it to say, there’s a draft one “out there”.
Of more import, however, may be the fact that, on March 15, “the parties to the legal challenge of the SEC’s conflict minerals rule requested that the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia enter a final judgment in accordance with the decisions of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.”2 The request essentially means that, now, absent any prior action by either Congress or the administration, “any further changes to the conflict minerals requirements would be left to the discretion of the SEC.”3 So, once again, we’re left to wait and see!
A final bit of intelligence on the Afghanistan front: my friend Ted recently sent me the link to an excellent piece in the publication CTC Sentinel (out of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point – just up the Hudson) entitled “The Taliban Stones Commission and the Insurgent Windfall from Illegal Mining.” Whilst the whole article is fascinating, I was particularly struck by the following: “The Taliban exploit mining sites in at least 14 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces and now earn as much as $200 to $300 million annually, the second-largest revenue stream after narcotics.”4 I thought that really put everything in perspective: it’s a huge amount!
Looking around on the net as I was the other day, I saw one event that I should love to attend, but, sadly, cannot. It’s the first ever “Metals & Minerals for the Environment Symposium” up at MIT on May 11-12. It looks great. It is described as: “The first convening of sustainability leaders in the metals and minerals sector at MIT.” It would be great to hear from any members who are actually able to go to it. Amongst other things, it includes tours of MIT’s labs!
Finally, congratulations are due to IBM for winning this year’s Compound Semiconductor Industry Innovation Award in Zürich earlier this month. The IBM team was able to demonstrate “an Indium gallium arsenide (InGaAs)/Silicon-germanium (SiGe) CMOS technology on Silicon (Si) substrate using processes suitable for high-volume manufacturing on 300 mm wafers.”5 According to Dr. Lukas Czornomaz, one IBM’s lead scientists involved in the research: “‘This novel technology is expected to enable 25% better performance with the same power consumption, or to double the battery life of mobile devices while maintaining their performance.’”6
Now that’s really interesting.
On that high note, I remain, with best wishes from New York
Tom Butcher, March 27th, 2017
©2017 Tom Butcher
Tom Butcher is an Associate Director at Van Eck Associates Corporation (“VanEck”). The views and opinions expressed herein are the personal views of Tom Butcher are not presented by or associated with VanEck or its affiliated entities.
1 The National Law Review: SEC Conflict Minerals Rule Faces New Scrutiny Ahead of May Filing Deadline, http://www.natlawreview.com/article/sec-conflict-minerals-rule-faces-new-scrutiny-ahead-may-filing-deadline (March 22, 2017)
4 CTC Sentinel: The Taliban Stones Commission and the Insurgent Windfall from Illegal Mining, https://www.ctc.usma.edu/posts/the-taliban-stones-commission-and-the-insurgent-windfall-from-illegal-mining (March 2017)
5 IBM Research: IBM Researchers Take Home Innovation Prize for Semiconductor Research, https://www.ibm.com/blogs/research/2017/03/ibm-researchers-take-home-innovation-prize-semiconductor-research/