Thaisarco, the tin smelting subsidiary of multi-national metals group AMC, announced today that it has chosen to suspend all purchases of tin ore from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The move follows mounting criticism of companies trading with DRC by campaign groups concerned that revenue from minerals supports illegal armed groups. It also follows the withdrawal of Belgian trader Traxys from the business announced in May.

Thaisarco participates in the recently launched ITRI Tin Supply Chain Initiative (iTSCi), which provides due diligence on ore purchases. The first stage of the initiative was implemented on 1st July 2009 and it includes, amongst other requirements, a system for written confirmation of origin of the mineral from each supplier. In a statement AMC director and Thaisarco chaiman Giles Robbins said “The certification scheme (iTSCi) is a practical and constructive approach to improving the visibility of the minerals supply chain. It is the only viable scheme which has been developed by anyone in the tin industry……..However, despite significant progress towards implementation of the next stage of the initiative, negative campaigning from advocacy groups and adverse coverage in sections of the international media is undermining the credibility of the process. Although acting entirely lawfully, the threat of misleading and bad publicity remains for anyone who participates in the DRC tin trade. These pressures have led Thaisarco to suspend its purchases from the DRC.”

“The time is right for all parties who are genuinely interested in improving the security situation in the Congo to take positive action in place of negative campaigning. We invite the support of these parties for the iTSCi process or alternatively for them to develop and implement their own realistic due diligence procedures to allow the Congolese miner the right and opportunity to continue to earn his livelihood…..Given the appropriate support, Thaisarco would resume the smelting service, which it has provided to a very significant portion of the Congo tin mining industry for many years, and which has ensured competitive access to the world market for tin for a developing economy. Whilst the suspension remains in place, Thaisarco will continue to honour existing contractual commitments until their expiry and will continue working towards a positive outcome for the industry.”

Link to ITRI webpage on Tin Supply from the DRC