ITSCI is urgently seeking support from our stakeholders, including donors, international institutions and downstream industry, in taking action in order to maintain livelihoods. We echo the OECD and RMI calls to action in support of essential on-the-ground initiatives including ITSCI’s.
“The crisis necessitates the rapid release of emergency funds for due diligence programmes operating in producing areas, and to support small and medium-sized enterprises in mineral supply chains through loan guarantee programmes and grants.” – OECD Multi-Stakeholder Steering Group
ITSCI’s work is more critical than ever during the COVID crisis. We have worked hard with ASM communities, supply chain actors and international stakeholders to ensure responsible business meeting international standards, in return attracting investment and allowing metal users to source responsibly without total disengagement from high risk areas. Hard-won gains we have made since our inception in 2010 to build and improve due diligence, and support business, government and civil society to understand and mitigate risks aligned with OECD due diligence could be lost and costly to recover. If operations were suspended, it would require significant financing and re-investment to even get back to where we are now.
“The DRC Government, the mining companies and the technical partners including ITSCI, have worked for many years in successfully breaking the links between illegal mining and conflicts. The ITSCI Programme has greatly contributed to OECD alignment in our 3T mining sector. It is essential that everything must be done to maintain this alignment for the DRC mining sector, which has been severely affected by COVID-19 pandemic.” – Willy Kitobo Samsoni, Minister of Mines, DRC
Since January 2017, the programme has been funded ~97% by upstream industry and self-supporting. This upstream revenue comes in part from member fees, but in the majority from a levy on mineral trading. In 2019, ITSCI expenses were US$8.6m (US$720k per month) of which levies contributed 90% at US$7.7m (US$642k pm). ITSCI is operated at cost by not-for-profit associations and all revenues are held in trust for sole use for programme activities.
“The COVID-19 crisis will be a litmus test for responsible businesses. The leaders will distinguish themselves by supporting suppliers and the most vulnerable in their supply chain for a fairer and more resilient recovery. I commend RMI and ITSCI for launching this pledge and call on all users of metals to join. Urgent steps are necessary to safeguard hard won gains in mineral supply chain and support artisanal mining communities from the potentially devastating impacts of the COVID-19 crisis.” -Tyler Gillard, Head of Sector Projects, OECD Centre for Responsible Business Conduct.
ITSCI has cut costs significantly since March but cannot operate at budgets matching the 65%+ drop in mining output. Suspension is not feasible since costs would still be incurred without any levy income, and with minerals likely traded informally or stock-piled, potentially associated with unresolved risks. Re-starting ITSCI following closure would require upfront investment in equipment, and staffing for a period of time until the mineral sector had recovered (around US$10m), as well as managing mineral stocks and other issues. This is not a route that ITSCI can take without very substantial donor funding.
- Urgently secure emergency funding to safeguard our due diligence program
ITSCI can be safeguarded through swift emergency funding to replace upstream levies of US$642k per month. The market situation is highly uncertain and guaranteed funding for 4-6 months would stabilise and underpin recovery. At a minimum, we require emergency funding to fill the levy gap; however funding to entirely replace levy collection would relieve more cost burden for upstream miners, and small companies struggling to stay in business.
- Leverage existing networks for health and humanitarian responses
ITSCI has a large scale network in remote mining areas with local staff trusted and familiar to stakeholders. This means we are in a unique position to make a difference through provision of COVID advice and support. The DRC Minister of Mines has stated a request for donor support for joint campaigns with SAEMAPE, Provincial Ministry of Mines and Provincial Ministry of Health which ITSCI is very well placed to implement if appropriately funded.
Further information about ITSCI and the COVID crisis
- Fact sheet: ITSCI at a glance