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AMC sidesteps responsibility by suspending purchases from Congo

Global Witness - September 18, 2009
Global Witness

The decision by British-owned Amalgamated Metals Corporation (AMC) and its subsidiary THAISARCO to suspend purchases from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is a regrettable move, which suggests the company is not serious about improving supply chain due diligence, said campaign group Global Witness today. The decision comes after revelations that THAISARCO was trading in minerals that had come from areas controlled by armed groups.

In a statement AMC cited 'the threat of misleading and bad publicity' as the reason for its decision to suspend tin ore purchases. But Global Witness said that the company has been aware of the link between the mineral sector and the brutal conflict in eastern DRC for years, and had not taken action to break this link. In 2002 a UN Panel of Experts found the company to be in violation of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises in connection with its involvement in the mineral trade. 

"If AMC and THAISARCO are committed to boosting economic growth in the DRC and helping artisanal miners, they should take the lead in actively questioning their suppliers and establishing the exact origin of their purchases. Their stated commitment to cleaning up the trade is undermined by their lack of action," said Gavin Hayman, Campaigns Director at Global Witness. 

Global Witness is appealing to companies sourcing minerals from eastern DRC to put in place thorough checks, including third party audits, and carry out spot checks on their supply chain. They should send representatives to the DRC to verify the claims made by their suppliers.

"We believe it is possible for companies to purchase minerals from eastern DRC without supporting any of the warring parties, but they would have to do a lot more than AMC seems prepared to do to,. Suspending all purchases is an abdication of responsibility: it's the easy option," said Hayman.

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