“Tin Mountain” Stirs Up Conflict Minerals Conversations in the Congo

May 9, 2016 10:05 AM ET

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Since the inception of the Dodd Frank Act in 2012, the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been messy. Dodd Frank section 1502 requires companies to identify whether the minerals tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold (3TG) in their supply chain originate from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Unless the 3TG comes from a certified mine of origin, DRC sourced minerals are considered to be “conflict minerals”. NGOs like Global Witness and Enough Project have encouraged companies to continue sourcing from the DRC so that artisanal miners are not embargoed. However, validating and verifying smelters as conflict free has posed challenging for companies, thus making sourcing outside of the DRC in many cases an easier option.

But, this will change. Canadian tin mining company, Alphamin, announced it would be building a $119 million tin mining facility in the DRC; one, they say, would be the largest of its kind in the world. In a recent Bloomberg article, Richard Robinson, Managing Director of Alphamin Congo said, “We will be the first industrial tin mine in Congo. We will double national output and can be a catalyst for economic development and stability in the whole region.”

While the Democratic Republic of Congo is a mineral rich country, a new tin mine does not come without extreme complications. So what is different about this facility in a country that has already been decimated by the mineral trade? Chief Operating Officer, Trevor Faber of Alphamin stated that the only reason for entering a complicated sector of business in a nation that poses many barriers to business is the existence of conflict minerals sourcing software. Alphamin continues “If it wasn’t for Dodd Frank, we wouldn’t be on this hill (location of the mine).”

In an industry executed primarily by informal diggers, Alphamin is taking a different approach to tin mining in the Congo. Creating a corporate facility and creating around 450 permanent local jobs (with the potential for more), Alphamin has already contracted 200 locals to gain access to the remote digging location. Alphamin concluded that sourcing from their mine is now easier as software has given companies the ability to thoroughly trace supply chains down to minerals mine. Source Intelligence, a supply chain transparency software, amongst others, has paved the way for companies looking to source their products right down to the raw materials phase, in addition has created an opportunity for ethical business practices to make their way to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

If you are currently exploring strategies to improve your sourcing practices, an ebook released by supply chain transparency provider, will provide you guidance.