ITRI and the Tantalum Niobium International Study Center (T.I.C.) today launched an urgent funding call to address the need for immediate expansion and implementation of the ITRI Tin Supply Chain Initiative (iTSCi) due diligence scheme in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
As a result of market reaction to the US conflict minerals legislation, which will reject untraceable mineral from central Africa after 1st April 2011, the iTSCi programme faces serious challenges and requires urgent and significant funding commitments in order to progress. ITRI and T.I.C. are therefore asking for contributions from companies at the downstream end of the tin and tantalum supply chains in order to allow a solution to this issue to be put in place. Further information can be obtained by contacting ITRI or T.I.C. or by following these links (http://tinyurl.com/4rtoq7b or www.tanb.org).
The conflict mineral issue has been widely reported and many studies have been carried out analysing the situation and recommending actions that involved stakeholders should take; the increased due diligence required incorporates both certification of conflict free mines and traceability of the product throughout the supply chain from mine to smelter. The ITRI Tin Supply Chain Initiative (iTSCi) is the one project that has been tested on the ground in Africa and been shown to directly and practically address these needs, linking that activity throughout the upstream and downstream supply chain, and working with the support of the DRC and Rwandan Governments and the inter-Governmental regional body the ICGLR.
Although the general mining suspension continues in North and South Kivu and Maniema, it is important that implementation is carried out without delay in up to six mining areas in Katanga Province. In order to allow some degree of continuing trade after April, this part of the project must begin by the end of January 2011.
The African mining sector itself is expected to fund two thirds of the total 5 year US$31million implementation and operational cost of the iTSCi scheme throughout the DRC. However, an estimated shared financing commitment of $12 million over a three year period is required, to enable the scheme to be self funding by the end of 2013 as a result of increasing mine production and trade from the region. Of this, US$1.5 million is required immediately to enable the commencement of the Katanga programme. Further funding of around US$5 million will also be required once the mining suspension is lifted and the project can continue in North and South Kivu and Maniema.
Richard Burt, President of the T.I.C. stated that “Without immediate additional funding commitments from third parties, iTSCi is in very real danger of failing – not just the industry, but failing the millions of people in the Eastern Congo who totally rely for their livelihood on a vibrant, legitimate, mining industry.”
As a recent article explains; ‘The small-scale mining sector in eastern Congo is responsible for a massive cash economy on which many Congolese are solely dependent… Negative economic implications of an extended embargo will ripple through nearly every source of livelihood in the [region] and, if not mitigated, could have enormous destabilizing effects… People in Congo recognize the connection between the mineral extraction in their country and the U.S. consumer… they are crying out for leadership. ’ 
There is a long chain of companies between the tens of thousands of people working in the artisanal mining sector of central Africa, and the consumer buying an end product in which the mined metal plays a vital part.
Kay Nimmo, Manager Sustainability & Regulatory Affairs at ITRI, commented “Ensuring minerals do not in any way contribute to conflict is a serious and pressing concern for the entire supply chain from the mine to the consumer. Now is the time for companies throughout the supply chain to choose to engage and to commit financially to the initiatives being undertaken.”
 ENOUGH: Why U.S. Leadership is Critical to Reforming the Mineral Trade in Eastern Congo, 29th December 2010
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Kay Nimmo, ITRI Ltd
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