The iTSCi traceability and due diligence programme was first implemented in Masisi in North Kivu during 2014, scaling up in the Province over time as resources and security allowed. iTSCi works closely with our partners in the government to put in place the traceability component of our system in the field, including cooperation with the state service agents of the Service for Assistance and Supervision of Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining organization or SAEMAPE (ex-SAESSCAM). iTSCi tags are distributed and allocated by iTSCi based on production estimates and used by SAEMAPE, with a number of checks on each in place at different levels. However, there have remained many challenges to implementation including allegations of tag misuse and sale.

iTSCi continually seeks improvements in system management for example, the procedure for distribution and storage of tags was recently further improved in Masisi to reduce potential risks of fraud and smuggling. There are now multiple levels of control in place as tags are stored in a lockbox secured with three padlocks controlled by each of SAEMAPE, mining cooperatives, and the concession owner. All aspects of the new procedure were developed with the full engagement of all stakeholders and as a result required extensive discussion. Following agreement, a written document was created to ensure a common understanding of requirements locally. iTSCi is always willing to adapt to local situations while maintaining standards required by international expectations, as well as harmonised reporting to the supply chain to avoid confusion.

Tags are now jointly monitored by iTSCi and three other stakeholder groups. According to Justin Munyolere, SAEMAPE Operations Manager for Masisi, ‘This new system makes it possible to strengthen collaboration between us and the mining operators’. SAEMAPE agents are also required to provide more specific and regular information on tag use, potential shortages and risks of fraud. If there are changes in production or tag use patterns, a joint visit is organized to assess the site’s production to enable better decisions regarding changes to tag distribution.

Now, we know the exact situation with tags assigned to, and used at each site, and we can manage our time better’ says Joseph Sadiki Mubogo, branch officer for the mining cooperative COOPERAMMA in Rubaya, Masisi. According to Augustin Muhire, a representative of SMB company, ‘This approach allows us to closely follow activity levels in sites. We now know exactly how many tags each SAEMAPE agent has significantly lowering the risk of misuse’.

As is always the case, if it is possible that the amount of minerals at a site does not correspond to the site’s plausible production levels, an incident is opened to investigate, however, strengthened tag management systems appropriate to local context can help to reduce risks.

Justin Munyolere, SAEMAPE Operations Manager for Masisi, distributing padlocks to SAEMAPE office director in Rubaya [Photo: Pact]