Ask the Experts: Obligations Under the EU Conflict Minerals Regulation

Ask the Experts: Obligations Under the EU Conflict Minerals Regulation

Our regulatory subject matter experts help stakeholders solve unique regulatory challenges associated with supply chain data management. We compile their insights to help educate compliance professionals through content, webinars and events. Assent’s experts also provide advice directly to clients. Here are the top five questions our Regulatory team has responded to over the past month.


Question: What are my current obligations under the European Union (EU) Conflict Minerals Regulation? How do I know what is required and if it affects my company?

Jared Connors: A company has legal reporting obligations under EU Conflict Minerals Regulation only if they are importers of raw materials such as tin ingots, solders, sheet metals and powders. The regulation is expected to have the most effect on companies that voluntarily step up to demonstrate due diligence, rather than the few companies that actually import the in-scope raw materials. The issue is already drawing significant attention in Europe, even with the business changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is also important to note that direct legal obligations are not the only factor in EU Conflict Minerals Regulation compliance. Market expectations are likely to be significant and companies may face pressure from customers, peers and other external stakeholders to broaden their corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs to champion ethical business practices in every part of their business. This pressure stems from a growing belief that companies cannot choose to complete due diligence activities in some high-risk areas but not others, as it undermines the legitimacy of existing CSR programs.

Question: What resources are available for companies completing or reviewing the Slavery & Trafficking Risk Template (STRT)? I’m not sure precisely what some of the questions mean. Is there some kind of guidance document available with more information?

Sarah Carpenter: The Social Responsibility Alliance provides a number of support resources to help individuals better understand the template, including a Supplier User Guide (which has more details on each question) and a collection of frequently asked questions.

Question: My company has a compliance program for the EU Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive, but now some of our customers are also requesting China RoHS compliance information. Can the information we have collected for EU RoHS due diligence be used to show compliance with China RoHS?

Valerie Kuntz: Depending on the type of products your company sells, you may be able to use EU RoHS 2 compliance information to answer a number of questions for China RoHS 2 declarations. However, there are some differences between the two directives. For example:

  • The scope may differ between the two directives as some products excluded from the EU legislation are in scope of China RoHS.
  • The directives have different exemptions and exemption numbers.
  • China RoHS only includes the original six substances from the EU directive; phthalates have not been added.
  • Under China RoHS, only 12 categories are required to be below the threshold levels. Other products may be above threshold as long as the information is communicated to the next level in the supply chain.
  • China RoHS has different requirements for labeling and hazardous substance tables for finished products. Customers may ask your company to provide this table or information so they can complete the table for the finished product.

As long as these differences are understood and kept in mind, EU RoHS compliance information can be used as a starting point for responding to China RoHS 2 compliance requests.

Question: A customer has asked me to fill out a EU Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) declaration form they claim is “evergreen,” so it will never be out of date. The form links to the Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC) list. The customer says this means if I sign the declaration form today, it will be valid in the future no matter what revisions are made to the SVHC list. Is this correct?

Travis Miller: No, it is not. In fact, even if the SVHC list were static, this would still not be possible; you cannot declare a future compliance status, because the future is unknown. A declaration is valid as of the date it is provided.

Question: Is perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) (CAS No. 335-67-1, EC No. 206-397-9) listed or regulated under the EU REACH regulation?

Bruce Jarnot: In the EU, PFOA, its salts and certain related substances are restricted for most uses under Entry 68 of REACH Annex XVII. The enforcement date is July 4, 2020.

Perfluorooctanoic acid was also banned under Annex A of the Stockholm Convention in May 2019, with a five-year exemption for certain uses. The restriction limits and use exceptions for PFOA under the REACH Annex XVII restriction align with PFOA’s listing under the Stockholm Convention.


For more questions and answers, visit the last edition of Assent’s Ask the Experts blog.

Assent’s regulatory subject matter experts provide invaluable insight and guidance. Learn more about how they can help your company by contacting us at info@assentcompliance.com.

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