Scaling Up iTSCi

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Scaling Up iTSCi

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The iTSCi Project seeks to bring transparency and best practice to the extraction and trade of minerals from the Great Lakes Region.

Mining and mineral trade have long been critical to the economies of the countries of Africa’s Great Lakes region and the livelihoods of many communities. The majority of such activity is not done in industrial mines but rather at artisanal and small-scale (ASM) mining sites. The work is often done informally, under dangerous conditions and in remote areas. Many miners operate illegally and, importantly, are rendered vulnerable to exploitative or predatory behavior, including by armed groups involved in ongoing conflicts in the region.

Growing international awareness of the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Great Lakes region and outrage over atrocities generated international pressure to de-link minerals and conflict through trade regulations. Some of the resulting measures have taken precautionary or punitive approaches that protected the integrity of supply chains but also caused hardship and job losses. Miners were victims twice-over, first of the conflict and then of market penalties that took away livelihoods.

This situation has galvanized local and international stakeholders to develop systems that allow tin, tantalum and tungsten (3T minerals) sourced from the region to be traceable to their point of origin and to be demonstrably free of links to conflict. To meet these objectives, Scaling Up Mineral Traceability will be linked with efforts by governments of the region, the government of the Netherlands and the international tin industry (ITRI), including the ITRI Tin Supply Chain Initiative, or iTSCi.   

Through all of its components, including stringent membership standards, audits, risk assessments, baseline mine studies, mineral tracking, data analysis and incident monitoring, iTSCi has been proven to create secure mines free of the presence or influence of armed groups and in which human rights abuses are rare. With more than 200 international members ranging from local cooperatives to high-profile product manufacturers, and with hundreds of government mine agents implementing the system, iTSCi has created an extraordinary network of stakeholders collaborating for a common cause. It is currently the only system through which minerals from the DRC and adjoining countries (as defined by the Dodd-Frank Act) are accepted by smelters taking part in CFS audits. It is also the only proven option that enables miners in the region to sell their minerals on the international market.

iTSCi implementation first focused on breaking the link between conflict and 3T mining. Scaling up Mineral Traceability seeks to sustain this progress and strengthen long-term regional stability by improving governance and enhancing the economic benefits of 3T mining to local communities. Specific objectives include:

    1)    improving the formalization of artisanal mining and mineral trade
    2)    strengthening good governance and transparency of conflict-free minerals
    3)    strengthening security and economic capacity in the mining sector  

To accomplish these objectives, Scaling up Mineral Traceability will first facilitate the expansion of the iTSCi system to new sites, the launch of electronic data collection and capacity-building activities for local civil society, NGO partners and business, helping them to play effective roles in the sector. The project is also leveraging the existing network of visible, accessible mines that are covered by the iTSCi system to improve living standards and environmental protections. Scaling Up Mineral Traceability will address occupational health and safety at mine sites and deliver livelihood programming for men and women miners through literacy, savings and small business development. By increasing the geographical scope and depth of programming in the ASM sector, Scaling Up Mineral Traceability is building on and moving beyond past interventions that helped keep the sector viable, helping realize ASM’s potential to be an effective force for development and peace.  

More information on the functioning of the iTSCi system can be found in this booklet.