SMM, Jan. 11: Congo's largest miner of coltan, a source of metal for mobile phones, said it would withdraw from the ITSCI certification scheme, a guarantee that companies rely on to ensure that minerals are protected from human rights violations.
Many other companies in the industry have complained about the move for reasons such as cost, but they have been reluctant to quit because they fear they will not be able to sell their minerals without ITSCI certification.
In a letter to the Minister of Mining of the Democratic Republic of the Congo on 13 December, SMB said that "SMB had no choice but to terminate its relationship with ITSCI" because it could no longer pay "increasing costs".
ITSCI did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Coltan is an ore containing niobium and tantalum used in technological products such as mobile phones and laptops.
The plan provides a way for the company to continue to use minerals from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its neighbours Burundi Rwanda and Uganda.
The purpose of the metal bagging and labelling system is to ensure that the minerals involved are not related to conflict child labour or other human rights violations.
However, many mining companies say the cost of the plan is increasingly becoming a burden.
"ITSCI's failure to review the fact that retroactive costs are a huge burden on all of us," said Jean Malic Kalima, president of the Rwanda Mining Association. "
"the only challenge preventing some Rwandan miners from joining other traceability projects is whether the final buyer is satisfied with them," he said. "
ITSCI is under greater pressure to reduce costs as other responsible mining companies are trying to use the technology block chain behind Bitcoin to help track minerals and ensure their cleanliness.