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Conflict Free Tin Initiative (CFTI) Partners Visit South Kivu To View Project Success.

Posted by: Samantha Hoo
27th Feb 2013
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Conflict Free Tin Initiative (CFTI) Partners Visit South Kivu To View Project Success.

To support responsible sourcing and economic development in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), industry partners convened by the Dutch government started a conflict-free tin initiative (CFTI) sourcing program in the Province of South Kivu in October 2012. Between 12-15th February 2013 the partners made their first visit to the area to view the successes of the project so far and evaluate any remaining challenges.

The mission was led by Jaime de Bourbon Parme (MFA, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Netherlands) and colleague Marion van Schaik (MFA), who were joined by consumer product manufacturers and committed buyers of the tin metal; Boukje Theeuwes (Philips), Mike Loch (Motorola Solutions) and Bas van Abel (Fairphone). In addition, Joseph Ikoli Yombo Y'Apeke, Directeur de Cabinet Adjoint du Ministre des Mines, travelled from Kinshasa in order to convey the commitment of the Congolese Government to ensuring the success of the CFTI to both the visiting partners and the local mining services of the Ministry.

Boukje Theeuwes, Manager of Supplier Sustainability at Philips explained; "The US Dodd-Frank Act has driven many companies away from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), in fear for the administrative, cost, and public perception repercussions. Philips is of the opinion that it is not right to abandon the DRC. We know we can play a role to restore economic development by simply creating a demand for conflict free minerals from the DRC. We have taken that responsibility and placed the first order for this conflict-free tin via our supply chain. The iTSCi scheme provides the necessary assurances that these minerals are conflict-free. By being here in the DRC we want to encourage other multinationals and US stock listed companies to follow suit."

The CFTI utilises iTSCi facilitated traceability, stakeholder meetings, due diligence and independent audits and includes a smelter committed to the conflict-free smelter (CFS) programme. The delegation therefore included Kay Nimmo (ITRI/iTSCi Governance Committee) and Mussadiq Hamid Merican (MSC, Malaysia Smelting Corporation) as well as representatives of local society/organisations such as Fidel Bafilembo (Enough), Cyprien Birhingingwa (CENADEP) and Pierre Kamaro of the International Conference on the Great Lakes (ICGLR). It also offered some of the CFTI participants the opportunity to meet for the first time the miners and co-operatives, negociants and exporter (WMC) who are all an important part of the CFTI supply chain.

CFTI

All work in the DRC on this project is managed locally by staff of Pact Inc, in particular Yves Bawa the Regional Manager of the iTSCi Programme, who organised the visit with contributions from others who joined the visit, Karen Hayes, Chris Hennemeyer, and Marlene Wafler as well as many other project staff.

So far the project has been a great success with more than 200 tonnes of mineral sold from the mine, and seven containers exported and already on their way to the smelter with an approximate value of USD 1.7 million. The expectation is that the first tin metal will leave the smelter around the end of March destined for end users committed to purchasing as part of the Conflict Free Tin Initiative.

The situation at the mine site has improved substantially in a short time. At the start of the project less than 100 diggers were registered to operate at the mine, but in February co-operatives recorded 1,294 artisanal miners, plus other associated service providers and traders. Moreover, the earning potential of those miners has more than doubled from USD 2 to USD 4 to 6 per kilo, depending on the tin content of the ore and the world metal price.

Due to the increased cash flow in the region, womens 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 reduce accidents. An interesting side effect of the project is the formalization of the sector and increased transparency which allows the Congolese government to properly tax and benefit from the minerals produced.

Richard Robinson of USAid was also present to observe the positive results of the USAid support for some related activities in the area such as the womens network and the formalisation of trading centres. Elena Peresso (European Commission) joined as an observer to draw lessons from the project at a time when work is underway to develop a comprehensive EU due diligence initiative. A consultant, filmmaker and journalists also participated in order to report on the visit, successes and challenges.

It was evident that local stakeholders understood the important role they play in ensuring the project is a success, and were keen to discuss when activities could expand to more mines in the area in order to increase trading opportunities and bring the kind of benefits already seen around Kalimbi to the wider community in South Kivu. Other sites are currently being evaluated for possible inclusion into the project.

Progress of the CFTI can be followed on the project website available here.

An overview of visit objectives can be seen in an interview with Jaime de Bourbon Parme recorded by Fairphone available here.

A blog from Mike Loch of Motorola Solutions describing the 4 days of the visit can be seen here:

Day One and Two in the DRC.

Day Three in the DRC.

Day Four in the DRC.

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