The Ministry of Energy and Mines of the Republic of Burundi and ITRI (on behalf of the iTSCi programme) are pleased to announce plans to co-operate over the implementation of the iTSCi traceability and due diligence initiative. This follows piloting of iTSCi in South Kivu in 2010, the on-going implementation in Rwanda since the end of 2010, and the more recent start-up of the scheme in the Katanga Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in late March 2011.

The Ministry is keen to safeguard future trading opportunities for its resources which are being impacted by the US ‘conflict mineral’ law and views traceability and due diligence as a key step in achieving the countries overall aim of formalising and improve working practices in the artisanal mining sector. The iTSCi programme aims, in conjunction with local Governments, industry and other stakeholders, to implement traceability, independent risk assessment and independent audit as recommended in the OECD Guidance for developing responsible supply chains from high risk or conflict affected areas.

Burundi is also a member of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) and has committed to the Regional Initiative against the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources (RINR). A memorandum of understanding between ITRI and the ICGLR already recognises iTSCi as a suitable approach that can be used as part of the ICGLR Regional Certification Mechanism and all parties are keen to see as rapid implementation as possible.

Unfortunately neither the Ministry nor iTSCi has any allocated budget for the required activities but will jointly look for opportunities that will allow practical work in the field to go forward as soon as possible.

The US ‘conflict minerals’ law presents many challenges to African mining and mineral trading businesses, not least the implementation of full and complex due diligence procedures that have not yet been prescribed in detail by relevant authorities. Operators in the mining sector of other countries adjoin the DRC such as Uganda and Zambia are also anxious to move forward with traceability and due diligence but progress is hampered by lack of funding, time and buyers for the minerals produced.