What is the Conflict Free Tin Initiative (CFTI)?

The CFTI is a multi-stakeholder project focused on realistic and sustainable solutions to the issues of “conflict minerals” from the DRC and adjoining countries.  The CFTI aims to show that companies can source conflict free minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo in accordance with legislation (such as the US Dodd Frank Act, Section 1502) and international guidelines (OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chain of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas).

Partners throughout the tin supply chain played their role making this possible. A group of experts validated a tin ore mine in the conflict prone area of South Kivu as conflict free. The Netherlands government financed Pact, an international development NGO, to implement the ITRI Tin Supply Chain Initiative (iTSCi) which is a comprehensive due diligence and traceability system. The Netherlands was the neutral broker, bringing industry partners together throughout the supply chain, from the mine, to exporters, international trader, Malaysian smelter, soldering paste manufacturers and end-users in the steel and electronics industry.

Traceability

The CFTI proved that due diligence and traceability are possible, even in the most difficult of circumstances. Incidents are to be expected, especially given the challenges in the DRC. These are taken seriously, investigated and mitigated through a transparent system that involves communities, supply chain participants, and the government. The fact that incidents do not become trends means that the  system not only works, but has proven to be robust.

Business case

This initiative offers access to the international market for the artisanal mining sector. It is up to the local actors to make sure that the business case remains sound in light of strong international competition in mining and a fluctuating world price of tin. Much depends on the quality of the ore and keeping costs competitive, including local tax levels.

Social impact

The social impact has been positive because this initiative restarted the local economy and generated an income for hundreds of miners who had been unemployed during the defacto embargo on the ‘3Ts’ (tin, tantalum and tungsten) from the DRC. Traceability is an essential contributor to formalization of mining, and it is hoped that it can become a springboard to enable miners to work in improved work conditions. The evolution of these benefits will take time. The main objective of the Conflict Free Tin Initiative remains keeping the supply chain open, integrated, and conflict free.

Expansion

CFTI has expanded its mining operation to Maniema, a province bordering South Kivu. This area is less prone to conflict and the government is reinvesting tax income in the mining communities.

End users as Fairphone, Philips and Tata Steel are currently using our CFTI tin in their end products to consumers. Other partners are expected to follow soon. See pictures of products on the results page and quotes on the participants page.

At a time when many companies have shied away from purchasing minerals from the DRC, CFTI provides a way to source responsibly from the region. According to Sasha Lezhnev of NGO the Enough Project, “Consumers across North America and Europe are demanding electronics and other products that contain conflict-free minerals from Congo, and this joint initiative is showing leadership by sourcing minerals from a conflict-free mine in eastern Congo. Minerals must be transparently traded, so that exports fully match production capacity, and consumers can be confident they are buying conflict-free products that help communities in Congo.”

For more participant quotes, click here.