ITRI and T.I.C. are pleased to announce the next important step towards establishing a non-conflict responsible supply chain of ‘3T’ minerals (cassiterite, columbotantalite and wolfram) from the central African region by formalising the opportunity for company membership of the iTSCi programme. A provisional membership agreement is now available which sets out the key aspects of the system; traceability, independent risk assessment and independent audit, as well as defining important legal aspects such as confidentiality and funding commitments.

Membership of iTSCi allows companies to fully participate in this joint industry initiative and to demonstrate their commitment to the progressive improvement of, and due diligence in, the mineral sector as laid out in the recently agreed OECD Guidance for achieving Responsible Supply Chains from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas. Member companies agree to recognise all aspects of the OECD Guidelines, as well as to provide information on their operations for risk assessment and audit. It is also anticipated that member companies will participate in the OECD implementation trial which will help to demonstrate the workability and implementation of the Guidance.

The iTSCi due diligence system, including traceability of minerals produced by artisanal and small scale mines, is currently being implemented in Rwanda and the Katanga Province of the DemocraticRepublic of Congo (DRC) in cooperation with the international development organisation Pact.

“Traceability is the fundamental first step to eliminate conflict minerals from the supply chain and to maintain the livelihoods of thousands of people in the DRC and adjoining countries. Responsible purchasing and promoting the use of non-conflict minerals is equally important to regulatory pressure to end conflict in mining areas” says Pact’s Senior Vice President of Global Engagement, Assheton Carter, “iTSCi is the first industry initiative to take concrete steps in the region to find a solution to this complex problem; we are happy to be working with them to this end.”

More than 25 applications for iTSCi membership have already been received from representatives of co-operatives, miners and exporters in the DRC, Rwanda and Burundi, with interest also evident from Uganda and Zambia. Importantly, since supply chains extend beyond the region, applications have also been received from traders and smelter/processors in Europe, North America and several countries in Asia.

Applicant companies are required to provide information on, for example, their company structure, investors, past production or trade capacity for assessment before full membership is agreed. This process is currently underway and a list of iTSCi members will be made available once this initial risk assessment process is complete.

The iTSCi programme also offers an opportunity for downstream companies who rely on the metals produced for manufacturing a wide range of consumer products to show support for the project, andtherefore development of a responsible and sustainable 3T mining sector in central Africa, by joining as associate members. Associate members do not have the same level of obligations as full members of the programme.

Further development of some aspects of the iTSCi programme such as the appointment of an Advisory Panel and an Ombudsman is still required but confirmation of arrangements for these aspects, and a final, rather than provisional programme agreement is targeted by the end of September 2011.