Security set to worsen if SMB coltan mine in DRC excluded from supply chains

Tantalum is used in electronic goods

SECURITY at Société Minière de Bisunzu’s (SMB) coltan mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was only likely to worsen were it excluded from supply chains following a deadly grenade attack last month, said Reuters.

Citing Berlin-based RCS Global, a company that helps track the provenance of minerals produced from SMB’s property, Reuters said tensions could only worsen at the mine as they had in 2018 when mining activity was temporarily suspended.

Up to three people were reported killed in the attack on June 23 in Kisura village, which is on an unmined part of SMB’s vast mining concession known as PE 4731, said the newswire.

SMB, which has some of Africa’s largest deposits of the tantalum-rich ore coltan, has been using a digital tracing system since January 2019 to show its minerals are not mined by children or fund warlords and corrupt soldiers. Tantalum is used in electronic goods such as smartphones, laptops and video game consoles.

“A disengagement from purchasing PE 4731 material, or for mining activities to stop, would be hugely detrimental to the security in the area and could worsen tensions, as occurred in 2018 when mining activity was temporarily suspended,” RCS Global said.

“DRC government and international stakeholder engagement will be beneficial to move the underlying tensions towards resolution,” RCS Global said in a statement due to be released to smelters and stakeholders on Monday.

Two policemen were targeted in a nighttime grenade attack, which was followed by gunfire. Three people were killed and three, including one policeman, were hurt and taken to hospital, it said.