In consideration of market pressures generated by the short deadlines of the US ‘conflict minerals’ legislation ITRI and T.I.C. announce a target for full implementation of the iTSCi tagging system by the end of March 2011. It is likely that cassiterite and tantalum minerals from the central African region that are not tagged, and therefore which will not possess verifiable chain-of-custody data, will no longer be acceptable to the international tin or tantalum markets after that date. The tagging requirement will be applicable not only to minerals produced in all provinces of the DRC but also those mined in adjoining countries such as Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda since these States are also implicated in the US legislation.

Kay Nimmo of ITRI noted that “While ITRI and the whole supply chain has been working very hard to address the conflict minerals issue via our phased and practical system it will be extremely challenging to meet this target date of end March 2011. We are not just talking about implementing a system in areas where conflict funding is known to exist, but in other provinces of the DRC, and other adjoining countries, an area covering practically a third of Africa. Realistically, with the resources available to us, it is unlikely that all cassiterite from the region can be covered by the system in time and many current production areas will unfortunately as a result be subject to an effective embargo by next April.”

The iTSCi project, which was being piloted in South and North Kivu, is currently halted under the general mining suspension announced by President Kabila early in September. It will not be possible to resume work in either province, or in Maniema, until the Ministry of Mines completes plans to improve security and allows resumption of exploitation. There is currently no legal mining activity to trace and the project funding, which relies on a levy on comptoir exports, has halted. It may therefore be necessary to re-focus the project activity on Katanga, rather than the Kivu’s and Maniema, where an implementation study, funded by the tantalum industry, is already under way.

Kay Nimmo noted that “Our original plan to expand the project by gradual training of staff and a progression from one mine to the next is no longer feasible due to the almost immediate deadline effectively being imposed by the US ‘conflict minerals’ legislation and other factors beyond our control. We have an urgent need to secure funding of around US$6million in order to have any chance of reaching the implementation target.”

The traceability system is also starting up in Rwanda in conjunction with the OGMR. The same date of end March 2011 is targeted in that country although resourcing issues exist and are similarly likely to limit progress.

For general editorial information and tin related enquiries contact:

Joanna Symons PR Consultant
Telephone +44 (0)7986 707 420
Email: [email protected] 

Kay Nimmo, ITRI Ltd
Manager–Sustainability/Regulatory Affairs
Telephone: +44 (0)1727 871 312/ +44 7717 063120
Email: [email protected]

For tantalum related enquiries contact:

Richard Burt
President T.I.C.
Telephone +1-519-846-9725
Email [email protected]

Press release (in French)