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Editor's Blog and Industry Comments

Conflict-free tin initiative launched by Dutch Government

28 September, 2012
Industry partners convened by the Dutch government today announced their intention to start a conflict-free tin sourcing program in South Kivu, an eastern province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This happened during the GeSI and EICC Conflict-Free Minerals Workshop attended by over 175 stakeholders representing Industry, Governments and Civil Society.

The Conflict-Free Tin Initiative is a pilot that aims to create demand for conflict-free tin from a region whose economy has collapsed due to series of severe internal and cross-border conflicts. Armed groups in the East of the DRC are known to control or tax minerals trade as a source of revenue. Many companies worldwide have shied away from purchasing minerals from some parts of the DRC. Moreover, recent legislation in the United States has created a de facto embargo in the region.

The Conflict-Free Tin Initiative introduces a tightly controlled conflict-free supply chain outside the control of the armed groups. It offers a first step towards renewed economic activity and hope to the masses of unemployed miners. Currently, the infrastructure is being put in place in the DRC for this pilot to be able to start.

So far Royal Philips Electronics, Tata Steel, Motorola Solutions, Research In Motion (RIM), Alpha, AIM Metals & Alloys, Malaysia Smelting Corporation Berhad (MSC), Traxys and ITRI are committed to participate in the Conflict-Free Tin Initiative. The Initiative welcomes all companies, including mines, smelters, component manufacturers and product manufacturers (end-users) to join, and its success will be largely measured by the industry participation in the closed-pipe supply system.

Headquartered in Montreal, Canada, AIM is a leading global manufacturer of assembly materials for the electronics industry. The company produces solder paste, liquid flux, cored wire, bar solder, adhesives, preforms, and specialty alloys such as indium and gold for electronics assembly, PC fabrication, component manufacturing and other industries.

The traceability and due diligence mechanism (iTSCi) is operated by Pact, an independent NGO. The Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs is the neutral broker that brought the partners along the supply chain together, from mine to smelter to end-user. The DRC government and local civil society are closely involved in the initiative which is structured within the framework of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region and will be consistent with the due diligence guidance of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. This project is hoped to contribute to the reform efforts of the Government of the DRC and its Mines Ministry. Its progress will depend on how the security situation in South Kivu develops.

Ben Knapen, Dutch Minister of Development Cooperation said, "It is unique that this diverse group of stakeholders has been brought together in an initiative that can improve the livelihoods of the people in conflict prone South Kivu. This can be a first step in a region where there are many wrongs to make right."

The pilot is currently in the last phase of the planning process.

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