Improved mining practices betters lives and incomes of local artisanal miners
Four years after the introduction of new rules for the regulation of tin, tantalum, and tungsten mineral supply chains from Central Africa, nearly 700 mines in the Great Lakes Region of Africa are actively participating in an international mechanism designed to meet the due diligence and chain of custody requirements of international mineral markets.
Intensive cooperation between Pact (a leading global development NGO), ITRI (the international tin association), TIC (the international tantalum association), the Governments of DRC, Rwanda and Burundi, local civil society partners, mining communities, key donors, and industry made this remarkable achievement possible.
In the wake of international concern about the link between minerals and conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and neighboring countries, the U.S. passed legislation requiring all U.S. publicly-traded companies to carry out due diligence on their mineral supply chains to ensure that any minerals they purchase are not sourced from conflict areas and do not fund conflict. Although well intentioned, the immediate impact of the Dodd-Frank Act created a de facto embargo and required intensive coordination amongst industry, governments and concerned stakeholders to protect livelihoods of the tens of thousands of subsistence artisanal miners who were victims rather than perpetrators of the conflict.
Since 2011, Pact has been working with ITRI and the Governments of the DRC, Rwanda and Burundi to implement the ITRI Tin Supply Chain Initiative (iTSCi), a comprehensive due diligence and mineral traceability system. In its first year, the initiative helped protect the livelihoods of 45,000 artisanal miners. Today, more than 71,000 miners in the DRC, Rwanda and Burundi are able to work free of threat, force or abuse, and—via their participation in the system—international industry and consumers are assured that their minerals do not fund conflict.
“Working hand in hand with partners along the supply chain from the miners to the end users and in constant collaboration with the Governments of the DRC, Rwanda and Burundi, we can help create safer mines and deliver better incomes for miners, their families, and their communities,” said Yves Bawa, Director of Pact’s country office in DRC and iTSCi Regional Program Manager.
Due to the system’s constant monitoring to ensure that armed groups are excluded from the mines and trade routes, mining now occurs without human rights abuses and contributes to peace and security.
Pact, ITRI and its partners are now working to expand the number of mine sites covered by iTSCi so that more miners have the opportunity to legally mine and trade. The program closely coordinates with the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), the Conflict-Free Smelter Program (CFSP), and other key efforts to promote security and protect livelihoods in Central Africa.
“It is our hope that with these encouraging results over the past four years, the next four years will show even more progress being made,” said Bawa.
With a newly available view into previously opaque supply chains, there is increased attention by the international community and business on social issues associated with mines across the world. Outside of its engagement with iTSCi, Pact is now working directly with industry and other stakeholders to address this and other critical challenges in the global mining sector in countries stretching from Colombia to Zimbabwe.
“Through our outreach and in-country work with partners, we are striving to make artisanal mines a safer place for all miners, including women, to work and providing alternatives to mining for young people in an effort to end child mining,” said Karen Hayes, Director of Pact’s Mines to Markets program. “We also support and implement programs that provide technical services to mine workers, increase incomes and mineral revenues, and improve social services in mining areas. Artisanal miners constitute 90 percent of the global mining workforce and yet are often neglected by development programming. We are totally committed to changing that.”
About Pact – Pact is a promise of a better tomorrow for all those who are poor and marginalized. Working in partnership to develop local solutions that enable people to own their own future, Pact helps people and communities build their own capacity to generate income, improve access to quality health services, and gain lasting benefit from the sustainable use of the natural resources around them. At work in nearly 30 countries, Pact is building local promise with an integrated, adaptive approach that is shaping the future of international development. www.pactworld.org.