The CFTI supply chain is a conflict-free design, piloting new tracking and tracing procedures to ensure the conflict-free status of the supply chain. Following the conflict-free testing phase of the pilot, the initiative will address other mine-site sustainability issues.
Conflict free tin shipped
To support responsible sourcing and economic development in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), industry partners convened by the Dutch government have started a conflict-free tin sourcing program in the province of South Kivu on 24 October 2012. This program demonstrates how the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas can be implemented on the ground with positive results.
Up till now the project has been a great success with more than 200 tonnes of material produced and seven shipments on its way to the smelter, with an approximate value of USD 1.7 million. Prospects are the first material will leave the smelter in the end of March and find their way to end users committed to the Conflict Free Tin Initiative.
The situation at the mine site has changed substantially; at the start of the project employment rates were low at less than 100 creuseurs, but currently the mine site offers jobs to about 1200 artisanal diggers. Moreover, the income of miners has more than doubled from USD 2 to USD 4 – USD 6 per kilo, depending on the quality of the tin and the world price. Due to the increased cash flow in the region, women networks have started saving to buy products which they can sell to the miners in order to support their families. Furthermore, working conditions and the security situation at the mine site has improved since local cooperatives buy equipment such as helmets, boots and water pumps for the miners and stabilize mineshafts with wooden piles in order to prevent accidents.
An interesting side effect of the project is the formalization of the sector. Transparency allows the Congolese government to tax the materials sourced.
The intended outcome of the pilot is to gain insight into tracking and tracing systems and identify opportunities for expansion, sending a market signal that companies can source conflict-free minerals from the Eastern DRC. A successful initiative will lead to more formalized mining, increased employment for artisanal miners, and a prospect for economic development and regional stability.
Royal Philips, Tata Steel, Motorola Solutions, BlackBerry, Alpha, AIM Metals & Alloys, Malaysia Smelting Corporation Berhad (MSC), Traxys, Fairphone and ITRI are committed to participate in the Conflict-Free Tin Initiative. The Initiative welcomes all companies, including mines, smelters, component manufacturers and product manufacturers (end-users) to join, and its success will be largely measured by the industry participation in the closed-pipe supply system.
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.”