Draft legislation to control imports of products containing tin, tantalum and tungsten originating in DR Congo has been introduced into the United States House of Representatives this week. The Conflict Minerals Trade Act of 2009 is sponsored by Congressman Jim McDermott (D-Washington), with co-sponsorship from Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts) and Frank Wolf (R-Virginia).
Under the proposed new legislation the US government would identify those commercial goods that could contain “conflict minerals”, approve a list of independent monitoring groups qualified to audit the worldwide processing facilities for these minerals, and eventually restrict the importation of minerals to those from audited facilities. Importers of these goods would have to certify on their customs declaration that their goods "contain conflict minerals" or are "conflict mineral free" based upon this audit system. The audits would determine the mines of origin for processed materials, verify the chain of custody and verify information provided by suppliers through investigations in the DRC and other countries.
The aims of the draft Bill fit well with those of the ITRI Tin Supply Chain Initiative (iTSCi) being developed for the region since this project is currently moving into Phase 2; to develop a chain of custody system from miner to exporter. However, it is hoped that the workability of some sections of the Bill can be improved as it passes through the process of discussion towards final binding legislation.