May 14, 2013 9:00 AM, EDT

Appeals Court Transfers Jurisdiction on ‘Conflict Minerals’ Case to Lower Court

A federal appeals court has ruled that a legal challenge to the Securities and Exchange Commission’s “conflict minerals” reporting rule must first be adjudicated in a civil federal district court.

The SEC regulation requires U.S. public companies examine their supply chains for traces of tantalum, tin, tungsten and gold from central Africa that they use in the production of goods. Companies will have to report their findings annually to the SEC beginning in 2014.

Truck makers and suppliers said earlier this year that they would be among the industries hardest hit by a new federal rule that could cost U.S. businesses nearly $8 billion to search out and shed “conflict minerals” originating from central Africa.

The conflict minerals lawsuit, filed last year by the National Association of Manufacturers, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Business Roundtable, originally was set for oral arguments last week.

However, the three trade associations asked the appeals court to transfer the case to a lower federal court after learning that the appeals judges last month sent down a lawsuit challenging a different SEC rule.

That lawsuit, filed by the American Petroleum Institute, challenged an SEC rule requiring certain companies to disclose payments made to foreign governments relating to the commercial development of oil, natural gas, or minerals.