Conflict-Free Minerals Mine Program Expands to Punia PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mike Buetow   
Tuesday, 18 February 2014 09:04

PUNIA, MANIEMA, DRC -- 9.5 kg bag of cassiterite, dug from the ground by a local miner here Saturday and tagged by a government representative, made the Punia mine the latest in a growing number of sites indoctrinated in the iTSCi conflict-free mineral traceability and due diligence program.

The announcement marks the second expansion of the iTSCi program this month into Punia in the northern area of Maniema Province. The program will now focus on Kasese, another mine in the region.

Punia and Kasese are remote and make the operation particularly challenging, but represent an area considered to have significant potential for production of all three of the "T" minerals (tin, tantalum and tungsten), the program representatives said. "Although no precise prediction on quantity is yet available, in the longer term, and as some further locations are added, production of 3T’s in Maniema could approach that of Katanga Province," the organization said.

The program was introduced into Maniema in December 2012, and after a slow start established a revived trade of significant quantities of conflict-free minerals from the historic production areas of Kalima and Kindu. A visit there in November 2013 by the regional and program managers confirmed positive reports of the initial activity both in terms of strong support from local stakeholders and a stable security situation. Those local stakeholders in the community and in the industry requested an urgent extension to the northern areas of Punia and Kasese and work has been underway since that time in order to secure the minimal required funding from industry partners committed to sector development and to plan a startup.

The Provincial Government in Maniema has been particularly supportive of the program and has itself taken important steps to ensure benefits of a revived mineral trade are shared among the community by returning a share of tax to the areas where the mineral has been produced with an ever growing economic multiplier effect.

Despite these successes there are growing concerns that the entire iTSCi Program, as well as local communities and business across the region, are being disrupted by the disengagement of the downstream tungsten industry from Africa; there is now a very limited market for conflict-free and traceable wolframite, which is becoming of low value and stocked in different locations, program officials said.

The iTSCi Programme is a joint industry mechanism designed to address conflict mineral concerns in the DRC, Rwanda and other Great Lakes Region countries. The Programme establishes traceability in the upstream mineral chain for 3T minerals by working with local governments and their field agents, and assists companies to establish due diligence through independent monitoring on the ground and regular audits.

Ed: For a related article on the success of the conflict metals program, click here.



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