The Eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are abundant with valuable metal ores and mineral resources. The trade in metals and minerals in Eastern Congo had been identified by the UN, NGOs, and investigators as contributing to the provision of revenue for armed groups.

In 2010, the US Congress expressed concerns that the purchase by US firms of “conflict minerals”. These minerals were tantalum ore (coltan), tungsten ore (wolframite), tin ore (cassiterite), and gold that originated from the DRC or any adjoining country, from areas controlled by armed groups or that helped to finance the conflict. Section 1502 of the US Dodd-Frank Act requires companies publicly traded in the US to disclose any such minerals in their products or supply chains. The final Rule, adopted and released by the SEC on August 22, 2012, requires that if a company knows or has reason to believe that sourced minerals may have originated in the DRC or adjoining countries, then the company must undertake “due diligence” on the source and chain of custody of its minerals, subsequently have their due diligence efforts checked by a private sector audit, and finally, file a Conflict Minerals Report.

Because some companies had shied away from purchasing minerals from the Kivus, it was not possible to implement iTSCi (the recognized industry standard for mineral sourcing verification in that area); this contributed to a de facto embargo of minerals from the region and many miners losing their livelihoods. Collective action by actors along supply chain willing to source conflict free minerals from the Kivus was needed to lift the embargo.