The ITRI Tin Supply Chain Initiative (iTSCi) reported that it is moving to adopt a technology solution designed to enhance data collection and traceability in that minerals due diligence program. Following development and field trials, this technology system, which electronically replicates current paper-based systems, has been tested, approved and will now be used by government agents responsible for data recording for the first time.

The iTSCi program is a minerals traceability system capable of tracking three T’s (tin, tantalum and tungsten) production through complex multistage and multi-operator supply chains that often involve several layers of mixing and re-processing. The program, which was adopted by the governments of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2011, is now operational at more than 850 mine sites in the region. This generates huge amounts of data with more than 25,000 transactions being manually entered into the program’s database each week, enabling companies up and down the supply chain to understand and manage the mine sources of their mineral purchases.

In order to increase the efficiency of data collection, iTSCi staff worked with software experts at Helveta U.K., a company that specializes in providing mobile supply chain management solutions across a range of industry sectors, in order to achieve a practical and effective system for minerals. Helveta is a major player in the timber traceability sector and has successfully implemented solutions in Cameroon, Nigeria, Congo-Brazzaville, Liberia, Bolivia and Indonesia. Following testing and field trials, software directly relevant to the iTSCi program is now available for installation on familiar mobile devices.

Handheld PDAs can be deployed easily in the field and moved between sites without the need to install bulky, expensive equipment, which is largely impractical for the vast majority of sites in Rwanda and DRC. Government agents now can more quickly and accurately collect data at the mine site, processor or exporter with information transmitted in real-time to the program database using the mobile phone network, effectively allowing data collection, verification and analysis to occur on the same day.

Government agents in Rwanda are now using this solution and the system will be rolled out more widely as financing allows, which is an important growth area for the country. Similar implementation developments are also planned in the DRC and other locations.