During a visit to the Goma in Eastern DRC last week, President Kabila announced a general suspension of mining exploitation in the area. Further information was subsequently made available in a communication from the Minister of Mines, Martin Kabwelulu, which explained that suspension of the mining exploitation covers the three provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu and Maniema, which account for the great majority of DRC cassiterite (tin ore) production. It is to take effect immediately and affects all types of miners and traders.
Further clarification is expected in the next few days regarding the exact extent of the suspension, the possible export of current stocks, as well as the aims and probable timescales of the action and any associated Governmental activities. Mining in, and exports from Katanga – the other main tin mining area – are not affected.
ITRI will support the actions of the DRC Government, and therefore, once the requirements are clear, will suspend the iTSCi tagging project at the pilot mine sites until such a time that exploitation can be officially resumed.
ITRI member, and iTSCi scheme participant, Malaysia Smelting Corporation (MSC), will also support the action of the DRC Government by ensuring purchase of legally exported cassiterite only, whether final confirmation requires an immediate export ban, or whether export of stocks can continue. Extensive documentation demonstrating legal export is already required by MSC for all DRC purchases under Phase 1 of the iTSCi scheme.
The suspension has serious implications for the iTSCi project;
(a) The project focused on pilot mines in South and North Kivu where a ban seems to now be in place. It appears that mining from those sites will no longer be considered legal and tagging and all associated activities to record production and prices will therefore stop with immediate effect once final Governmental confirmation has been received.
(b) While the iTSCi project benefited from financial contributions from several end users to cover set-up costs of the project this funding has now all been utilised. From 1st September the project is entirely reliant on the comptoir-smelter levy collected on cassiterite exported from DRC and Rwanda. The majority of cassiterite is sourced from the three affected provinces and the project will not have any funding, and cannot continue, while the ban remains in place.
It is not possible to say whether the iTSCi project will be re-activated on the ground in DRC following resumption of mining in the 3 affected provinces. This will depend on the continuing engagement of ITRI members in the region and funding availability.
The full ITRI Statement regarding the ban can be found here