iTSCi and Pact announced funding from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands (MFA) for a three-year project to achieve “Scaling up Mineral Trade” in the Great Lakes region of central Africa (press release can be found here). Funding will support activities of Pact, the field implementing partner of iTSCi in the region, in order to bring more miners and their communities back into the responsible international market and create the economic opportunity expected to lead to improved security and governance in the local area. The project will also add social value through provision of training on savings and business skills, improving health and safety in artisanal mines, and addressing various human rights issues in the mining sector such as gender equity.

In 2012, the MFA led action to break the de facto embargo persisting in the DRC since Dodd Frank by supporting iTSCi as part of the Conflict Free Tin Initiative (CFTI) to provide conflict-free minerals from high-risk areas of South Kivu, DRC to smelters participating in the CFSP auditing system. The demonstrated success of CFTI allowed iTSCi to move ahead with extension to other areas in both North and South Kivu – something that can now be completed with the newly agreed continued support from MFA. The Scaling Up Mineral Trade project will enable iTSCi to achieve important targets, notably increasing the inclusion of 3Ts mines by around 25%.

The Netherlands’ Minister for Development and Cooperation (found here), Lilianne Ploumen, explained that “A few years ago, we were struggling to balance the need to prevent the fueling of conflict with the need to use mining as a motor for economic and social development. Now I think we are starting to find this balance – thanks to increased security, and thanks to the many stakeholders who refused to give up on the Great Lakes as a provider of minerals to the world.” Going on to say that “there is more to be done; more mines need to become conflict free, so that more communities can benefit from the responsible export that contributes to sustainable development.”

Yves Bawa, Pact’s Regional Director (found here), praised the continued and generous support of the Dutch government saying, “The MFA’s support for this project goes beyond funding as it is hallmarked by ongoing commitment, thoughtful engagement and close collaboration. ‘Scaling up Mineral Trade’ brings the miners and the market closer together than ever, improves good governance and the capacity of the government to manage the sector, and opens the door to new, positive impacts on the lives of the people we seek to serve.”