Improving mineral sourcing in Burundi

July 16, 2014
Artisanal miners at work in Africa's Great Lakes region.

In May 2014, Burundi became the third country in the African Great Lakes Region to implement the internationally accepted iTSCi due diligence and mineral traceability system. iTSCi will be expanded to cover the country’s production and trade of tin, tantalum, and tungsten (often referred to as the ‘3Ts’). It is an important milestone for ‘conflict-free’ sourcing from Central Africa and will expand volumes of conflict-free, legal, and traceable 3T materials that are available to international manufacturers. 

The production and trade of the 3Ts and gold have come under international scrutiny in recent years as the link between minerals and conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been the subject of research and reports by a range of international NGOs and the UN. As a result of these concerns, the US Congress enacted regulations that require all US publicly-traded companies to carry out due diligence on their mineral supply chains to ensure that any minerals they purchase are neither produced by force nor contribute to financing conflict. These regulations make supply chain due diligence imperative for companies wishing to trade with US-listed companies.

"Starting iTSCi in Burundi is a key milestone which will considerably strengthen the regional dynamics of traceability and due diligence of 3Ts minerals in the great lakes region, providing an opportunity for development and stability across the area," said Yves Bawa, iTSCi Regional Program Manager, Director of Pact’s country office in DRC, and a Congolese development professional who is leading iTSCi’s implementation in Burundi.

As a signal of its importance to Burundi, Mr. Come Manirakiza, Burundi’s National Minister of Energy and Mines, and various key stakeholders from the mining sector attended the launch of the system at an event in Bujumbura. The country knows that iTSCi’s traceability and monitoring systems will assure international buyers that its mining sector is ‘conflict free’, meeting the high expectations of consumers, as in other locations where it is already established.

iTSCi in Burundi and Pact are also working with the World Bank to expand financial transparency in the country’s mining sector and to test a system that tracks taxes and revenues from the country’s artisanal mining sector to maximize tax income to the State and to minimize illegal taxation of miners. For this goal, the World Bank is funding a complementary project that is working with iTSCi in Burundi. These funds will contribute to mine site baselines, capacity building of Ministry of Energy and Mines staff, and a feasibility study on tracking production and revenue data to improve mining sector governance.