Less than half of companies officially recorded as exporting minerals in 2015 from eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda published due diligence reports for that year.
Supply chain due diligence is a process that was developed in response to the well-documented links between the minerals trade, human rights abuses and the financing of conflict prevalent in parts of the Great Lakes region and elsewhere. It is the steps companies can take to identify, address and be transparent about issues in their supply chains. Public reporting is an integral element of the five-step framework for supply chain due diligence outlined by the OECD, today regarded as the international standard for responsible mineral sourcing.
In Congo and Rwanda, supply chain due diligence – including public reporting – is mandatory for companies exporting certain minerals, according to national law. However, Global Witness found that only 70 per cent of exporters in Rwanda, 45 per cent in eastern Congo and none in Uganda published reports in 2015. Of the 29 companies that did publish a report, 28 operate in the tin, tantalum or tungsten sectors (“3T”). Only one of 18 official gold exporters published a report.
No companies published reports prior to 2014 so in that regard the study reveals progress. A region-wide reporting rate of almost 50 per cent reflects companies’ increasing awareness of and commitments to their responsibility to conduct due diligence. But there remains a long way to go.
Across the three countries, almost 75 per cent of the companies that published reports failed to mention any risks encountered in their work or how these were addressed. For some of these companies, Global Witness uncovered major incidents along their supply chains that were not reported.
Too many companies wrote generic one-pagers on what they commit to doing rather than what they have actually done. The seven companies that took steps to report on risk represent the beginning of a much-needed shift in the region’s minerals sector - Natasha White, Global Witness
Global Witness tracked minerals from a number of Congo-based companies to six international traders based in Malaysia, Hong Kong, Belgium, Luxembourg and Rwanda. The reports of some of these companies were even less detailed than those of the exporters, despite their greater size and resources. From here these minerals would have been used in electronics, jewellery and industries the world over.
Read our recommendations to companies operating in and sourcing minerals from Congo, Rwanda and Uganda, the governments of these three countries and the main industry-run regional responsible sourcing scheme, “iTSCi”, in the full report.
For the full list of companies that officially exported tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold (“3TG”) from eastern Congo, Rwanda and Uganda in 2015 and whether they published a 2015 due diligence report, see:
Natasha White, Journalist
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What is Supply Chain Due Diligence?
Unless companies make sure they are trading responsibly, they risk funding serious abuses overseas.