An open letter calling for financial support for traceability and due diligence programmes in the 3T metals industry has been released. The letter, signed by senior figures from the African Great Lakes region, international associations and more than 200 companies asks for urgent financial assistance from donors and downstream industry to share the ‘conflict mineral’ related costs across the supply chain. The price and therefore value of 3T metals (tantalum, tin, tungsten) has fallen between 30-60% over the past 12 months and has led to equivalent falls in responsible mineral production in central Africa.
Without funding from outside the upstream sector, the iTSCi Programme may come under threat leading to an uncertain future for hundreds of communities dependent upon 3T mining in the region. Abandoning due diligence in order to secure survival and to compete with production areas outside the region, which do not face the same traceability and due diligence costs, will leave the local mining industry more vulnerable to exploitation by armed groups and raise the likelihood of ‘conflict related minerals’ finding their way into the supply chain.
Speaking about the letter’s publication John Kanyoni, Vice President of the Chamber of Mines of the business federation of DRC (FEC) said “The great lakes region, and particularly the DRC, is at a crossroads regarding initiatives for transparency in the 3T’s industry since all the effort made so far on traceability, due diligence and certification will be affected by the lack of funds. Upstream companies have financed the majority of these initiatives to date but the decrease in the price of metals on the international market no longer allows upstream companies to support those initiatives today. It is the right moment for downstream companies and donors to contribute more to those initiatives which can then continue to achieve vital change with the full technical support of the 3T’s industry.”