LONDON - Tin consultancy group ITRI has signed a deal designed to help prevent armed groups in Africa's Great Lakes Region profiting from valuable mineral exports, it said on Monday.
UK-based ITRI and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) said in a statement they had signed a co-operation agreement aimed at harmonising their separate initiatives on the traceability of conflict minerals.
"Both the ITRI Tin Supply Chain Initiative (iTSCi) and ICGLR initiatives have a common objective of limiting the ability for armed groups to source financing from the production and trade of minerals in the Great Lakes Region," the statement said.
Both ICGLR and ITRI said they recognised the importance and urgency of implementing a practical, cost effective and credible traceability or certification system for conflict minerals. It will primarily address cassiterite, columbotantalite (coltan) and wolframite as part of this co-operation.
Application of traceability to gold is desirable but various adaptations of the system may be required.
The two parties were keen to take advantage of the synergies between their systems, and cited a need to work quickly.
A U.S. "conflict minerals" bill is due to come into force in April next year. The new law will require companies to prove that materials extracted from the Democratic Republic of Congo and its nine neighbours are not linked to conflict.
"We are very concerned over the threat to continuing trade from the region resulting from the U.S. legislation on conflict minerals," said Kay Nimmo, Manager of Sustainability and Regulatory Affairs.
Minerals that are not tagged and traceable under the iTSCi system will not be acceptable to the supply chain of responsible international purchasers from early in 2011.
"There is hardly enough time to put everything in place. We are sure that ICGLR involvement will make a significant difference to a successful achievement of this objective," Nimmo said.
She said reassuring buyers and consumers, international organisations and regulating government authorities in third-party countries, that appropriate due diligence measures were being applied across the region was a top priority for the tin industry and its industry partners.
The ITRI agreement with ICGLR follows others with the government of the DRC for co-operation over the initial iTSCi pilot project in North and South Kivu, as well as the Rwandan Geology and Mines Authority (OGMR), which are currently implementing the system in Rwanda.