Supporting Rwandan miners to trace and validate mineral exports

The Challenge

Local mining operators in Rwanda and international traders have been consistently calling for a new and more innovative process to trace and validate minerals exports from the country as compliant with the requirements of the OECD Due Diligence Guidance. A secondary objective of BSP's work was to improve the overall export process from Rwandan mines.

BSP in collaboration with the Rwandan Government

To address the challenge, BSP has worked in collaboration with the Rwandan government since March 2016 to implement systems that support fully traceable and OECD Due Diligence compliant mineral supply chains in the country.

During the third quarter of 2016, international tantalum buyer AVX, in collaboration with Kigali-based exporter RPW, implemented Better Sourcing due diligence systems. This was part of a revised procurement strategy, with a view to improving supply chain risk management and to increase transparency. Collaboration between BSP and AVX helped establish the most transparent supply chain of tantalum ores from Rwanda to the USA.

Overall, for Rwandan operators, BSP services allow access to international conflict-free markets, help mitigate risks of theft, streamline supply chains from mine to end user, and create a favourable environment for investment in the mining sector.

Initially, five small-scale mining operators spread over Rwanda’s hilly geography were identified and approved to participate in the project, and more were included subsequently.

The approach to due diligence in this supply chain included the implementation of the following BSP tools:

1. A Supply Chain Evaluation, which determined production feasibility, supply chain risks and conducted KYC on the supply chain participants;
2. The implementation of an electronic traceability system, in cooperation with BSP implementation partner GeoTraceability, to ensure the exported materials were coming from the certified mines and not contaminated with illegal minerals, and;
3. The deployment of the Information Management System (IMS) through BSP agents, which is BSP’s technology-based communications solution, which assesses and monitors risks in real-time on a continuous basis. This provides a complete picture of risk management and mitigation options, if required, related to a shipment, before the mineral consignment is exported.
4. The IMS is also used to monitor the social and environmental impact of mining activities, profiling mining communities to unearth opportunities for targeted CSR and development expenditure into the mining communities where BSP is implemented.

The Solution

In August 2016, a first shipment of Better Sourcing Program validated materials, additionally certified through the ICGLR Regional Certification Mechanism, was exported from Rwanda to the United States. The receiving smelter, US-based Global Advanced Metals (GAM), was successfully audited and found to be compliant with the provisions of the Conflict-Free Smelter Program, the market leading smelter certification scheme, in September 2016. AVX achieved its objective to establish a cost-effective, transparent and fully OECD and CFSI compliant supply chain from the Great Lakes region. With its effective engagement at local level and improved communication, BSP is creating incentives for local operators to raise their standards. Most notably, the AVX-supported tantalum project in Rwanda facilitated an increase in revenues received by community miners working for local production partner Soremi Intego, which in turn stimulated a rise in production. In the process, BSP also identified mining operators whose insufficient efforts prevented their access to BSP services, or caused their exclusion from the supply chain. Our close coverage and strict scrutiny of all partners is aimed at a continuous and progressive improvement in supply chain reliability throughout the country.

The Outcome