Kufatilia – Towards a more responsible gold supply chain in eastern DRC

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Artisanal and small-scale gold is widely used in the electronics industry. But gold is also the predominant conflict mineral in eastern Congo, where it is illegally traded to fund armed actors. Artisanal gold is difficult to trace, and because of its volume it can be easily smuggled. Few gold mines in eastern Congo are officially qualified, and traceability initiatives for gold remain largely exploratory and localized. As a result, gold miner families are most vulnerable: artisanal miners have to work in dangerous conditions and are exposed to exploitation, abuse, illegal taxation.

Whilst the OECD Due Diligence Guidance expects companies to identify incidents affecting their mineral supply chains and take mitigation measures, incident reporting for artisanal gold is still at an embryonic stage. The new EU Conflict Minerals Regulation, in full force throughout the European Union as from January 2021, wants to ensure that EU companies meet international sourcing standards as set by the OECD Guidance.

With the financial support of European Partnership for Responsible Minerals (EPRM), IPIS together with the Canadian company Ulula, developed the ‘Kufatilia’ system, a SMS-based incident reporting mechanism.  This system is accessible to mining communities in eastern Congo, enabling them to anonymously report incidents in artisanal mining zones (such as mine accidents, interference of armed groups, fraud and illegal taxation, child labour, environmental issues), by mobile phone. Reported incidents are uploaded on a web-based platform, where they are managed by local civil society organizations (CSO). Together with local authorities, police, mining state services, mining cooperatives, army or/and local civil society, these CSOs work towards a potential solution. A public map on a webpage (“ASM Incident Tracker”) visualises reported and monitored incidents in real time.

Establishing an incident reporting and monitoring system is an important step towards formalization in the artisanal gold sector, and contributes to make gold supply chains as transparent and clean as possible.

While EPRM funding for this project ended in December 2019, IPIS continued to support Kufatilia. You can find more recent publications on this page