The New Times of Rwanda recently published an article entitled “Mineral smuggling-still a major problem”. The article suggests among other things that smuggling into Rwanda is increasing, and that the Government of the DRC has failed to successfully implement the iTSCi system, apparently based on reports and comments from ITRI. However we wish to make clear that the New Times did not contact ITRI when preparing this article, and no published report makes the statements which have been attributed to us.
ITRI believes that the level of any smuggling of minerals from the eastern DRC into Rwanda has decreased, particularly since the beginning of 2012. This is supported by evidence of increased border controls and checks put in place by the Rwandan Government, and involving both the police and the army. Additional work to verify mine production levels has also contributed to notable improvements.
ITRI is working closely with the Ministry of Mines in Kinshasa, as well as the mining services in Katanga Province where the iTSCi programme is implemented. We are very pleased with our partnership, especially with co-operation with SAESSCAM Katanga who are very strict in control and follow up of the process. ITRI does not consider Kinshasa to have ‘almost failed’ in the implementation of iTSCi as suggested in the article, but considers Katanga to be operating successful traceability and due diligence. The DRC Government has also demonstrated its commitment to the OECD due diligence guidance upon which iTSCi is based, for example, by the recent suspension of two exporters suspected of not following that guidance.
The iTSCi programme continues to support responsible mineral production and export from Rwanda and Katanga where traceability, field assessment and audits are in place, and plans to begin implementation in other conflict-free areas such as Maniema shortly.