iTSCi is extremely pleased to announce another key milestone for the Programme; an expansion into the Province of Maniema that will enable an ever growing number of communities in the DRC to access international markets for their conflict-free minerals. With the inclusion of Maniema the iTSCi Programme has now been implemented in Katanga, and two out of the three tin producing provinces in Eastern DRC.
Preparations for the launch of the project have been underway for the last few weeks, including local stakeholder meetings and training workshops for the DRC Government services who will operate the tagging system. The first tags were applied today at the launch ceremony held in the presence of the Provincial Governor and Provincial Minister of Mines of Maniema.
Patrick Amisi, the Provincial Minister of Mines warmly welcomed the launch of the Programme, explaining that; “The project will help our mining industry to meet international standards and access international mineral markets at fair prices. The local communities will benefit from renewed opportunities for income which will support the economy of the Province and maximise revenues. We are so pleased that the opportunity for our population to return to work in the mines will above all help with stabilisation and security.”
For the first few months the Programme will begin at sites situated in the central area of the Province, including the Kalima and Kailo territories which have already been the subject of independent assessments confirming that there are no concerns over conflict related issues, as well as Government validation of specific sites. Extension to other sites will occur progressively as further funding sources may become available.
The initial operational period of the Programme in Maniema has been made possible with support from the South African Government through the Department of Trade and Industry’s Regional Spatial Development Initiatives Program (RSDIP), as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands. The Government of the DRC through the PROMINES “Growth with Governance” project (funded by the World Bank and DFID) has also committed to provide items of equipment to assist in the continued expansion.
The launch has also been facilitated by local companies; Maniema Mining Company SPRL (MMC), a Malaysia Smelting Corporation (MSC) led consortium, and Societe Miniere du Maniema (SOMIMA) and their partner Metmar Trading (PTY) Ltd, and of course all involved upstream trading companies will be providing on-going funding to make the Programme sustainable in the longer term.
MSC continues their long term involvement in the central African mineral sector with a strong commitment to foster trade in artisanal production which will help to provide opportunities for current and future sustainable development of tin industry areas in the region. Chua Cheong Yong, Deputy Group Chief Executive Officer explained that “MSC has been a driving force in the development of the iTSCi Programme and the implementation of due diligence processes which demonstrate that conflict-free minerals are available even under difficult operating circumstances. Our staff have spent the past few weeks in Maniema to support this launch which is a milestone in the redevelopment of the tin mining industry in the Province”.
Maniema is a very remote area where the logistical challenges and costs of operating a traceability and due diligence system are significant. Prices for basic equipment and commodities are high due to lack of infrastructure, for example, a litre of gasoline costs $1.60 in North Kivu, but $3.20 in Maniema. These factors also impact the local community where more than half the population does not get enough to eat every day. The Province has the highest rate of child and infant mortality in the DRC, only 39% of the population have access to potable water, and less than 1% of the population in the capital city of Kindu have access to electricity .
iTSCi therefore invites local companies and international metal buyers to participate in, and support the Programme in order to build a formalised mining sector where traceability and due diligence is encouraged, enabling further investment and expansion in mining, and through that, in the local infrastructure which will bring benefit to the entire population.
Workers celebrate the launch of tagging: