<!-- IMAGE -->
A British aid group is calling for the Congolese government to do more
to regulate the country's tin industry. Global Witness says a new
industry initiative to trace the origin of tin supplies from the
Democratic Republic of Congo will fail to break the link between the
mineral trade and the country's ongoing armed conflict.
In the past few months a body
that represents members of the tin industry, ITRI, has begun developing
proposals to control its supply chain.
In the new initiative,
traders and middlemen will be required to complete a set of forms
declaring the origin of minerals. But the Britain-based watchdog
Global Witness, which has seen the proposals, says the initiative will
not be effective in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Serralta from Global Witness says suppliers will be asked to tick a box
confirming that no armed groups have been involved in the production of
the minerals. She says initiatives like this will be pointless if
mechanisms are not in place to verify what people declare in the forms.
in the context of Congo, filling forms is not the answer," said
Serralta. "I mean you need spot checks to make sure that actually the
situation is as the form is saying or not and it is likely it would not
The minerals trade has for a long time been a source of
revenue for armed rebel groups in eastern Congo, including the
Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, which is linked to the
Hutu extremists involved in the genocide in neighboring Rwanda.
But Serralta says government troops also use force to tax miners and this is not being addressed in the ITRI proposal.
the moment ITRI as it stands does not recognize that role and that is
something that we pointed out to them and said you need to make sure
that the Congolese army is not benefiting, otherwise it is just
shifting from one rebel group to the Congolese army," she said.
director of the London-based risk-analysis group Maplecroft, Alyson
Warhurst, says the tin industry in Congo is difficult to regulate
because mining is not industrialized. According to the World Bank,
there are as many as two-million artisanal miners in Congo - just one
container load of ore could be sourced from as many as 10,000 miners.
Warhurst says governments and international groups need to be involved in regulating the system.
only way forward, as has been proved by addressing, for example,
conflict diamonds - largely successfully - in West and Central Africa
in the late 1990s, is by businesses, governments, and non-governmental
organizations working together to understand the chain by which
businesses procure these minerals from DRC within supply chains and put
in place controls," said Warhurst.
A leading trader on the
London Mineral Exchange, AMC, recently stopped purchases of tin ore
from Congo after Global Witness accused the trader of buying tin from
middlemen who deal with rebel groups. AMC said bad publicity was
undermining moves to make sure rebel fighters in eastern Congo do not
benefit from the trade.
The Congolese Mines Ministry says it supports ITRI's monitoring plan.