The Belgian-based trader Traxys SA will halt all purchases of tin ore from the Democratic Republic of Congo from 1 June according to news agency reports. Traxys’ decision to pull out of eastern Congo comes amid growing pressure from the United Nations and NGOs to clean up that trade. “As of June 1, we will stop sourcing any minerals from eastern Congo, that is to say, from (the provinces of) North Kivu, South Kivu, and Maniema,” a Traxys official told Reuters.
Late last year a report by a UN panel of experts said that Traxys bought tin ore and coltan from four companies based in South Kivu who were in turn linked with the rebel Rwandan Hutu Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), composed in part of fighters responsible for Rwanda’s 1994 genocide. Representatives of two of the companies, Groupe Olive and Etablissement Muyere, told Bloomberg that they had received notification of Traxys’s decision to stop buying, but denied that their companies get products from rebel-controlled operations.
Traxys, which lists among its shareholders several private equity firms and steelmaker ArcelorMittal, also rejected the UN claims and said on Monday that it had set up its own framework to verify that the minerals it purchased did not support illegal armed groups. “According to the UN, that’s not enough…We prefer to stop until we can come up with a protocol that will satisfy them,” the company representative said.
Traxys is a member of the ITRI Working Group which is currently developing a due diligence and certification process for concentrates sourced from the DRC.