Supply Chain Characteristics that Impact Traceability

Traceability Takeaways

  • Tin is considered a “conflict mineral,” meaning that in some parts of the world, the mining and trade of tin finances armed conflict and contributes to human and labor rights abuses and violence. The trade of conflict minerals (tin, tungsten, tantalum, and gold, collectively referred to as 3TG) is regulated through legislation such as the European Union’s Conflict Minerals Regulation and the United States’ Dodd-Frank Act. Both pieces of legislation outline the required processes for identifying upstream supply chain actors in order to conduct due diligence to ensure that tin and other conflict minerals being imported were produced responsibly and in a conflict-free manner. Processes are outlined in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas. Supply Chain Mapping is a crucial step for both tin traceability and for the due diligence process. The Responsible Minerals Initiative provides detailed resources for due diligence in tin supply chains
  • Tin production often relies on artisanal small mining (ASM), informal collectors, and, in some geographies, private independent smelters.1A Collective Approach to Achieving A Sustainable Indonesian Tin Sector – Legacy Report of The Tin Working Group (TWG). aidenvironment and IDH, April 2017,   The aggregation of tin ore at the smelting stage of production can make upstream traceability challenging. The most resource-intensive forms of traceability, such as identity preservation, are likely to be less feasible in these contexts. Enhanced supply chain mapping with due diligence gatekeeping approaches for mid-tier actors can help to enable the identification of higher risk inputs and prevent them from entering supply chains.  
  • Some tin producing countries are rapidly increasing their tin output2Ramos, D. “Bolivia aims to double tin output in 2022, state miner says.” Reuters, 21 September 2021,   to meet an increasing global demand. This heightened production could increase the risk of labor abuse and the reliance on child labor within tin supply chains. Traceability systems will need to be adaptable and scalable in order to keep up with expanding supply chains.  

Nature of Labor Rights Risk/Vulnerable Workers

Forced Labor or Trafficking in Persons cited by U.S. Government

Child Labor cited by U.S. Government

Risk of Forced Labor or Trafficking in Persons cited by other source

Risk of Child Labor cited by other source

Documented presence of migrant workers

Documented presence of other vulnerable workers

Documented presence or significant likelihood of third-party labor recruiters

Features of Production and Supply Chain

Large numbers of dispersed, unorganized, or informal small producers or other worksites

Multiple points of aggregation, co-mingling, and/or transformation across supply chain

Complex/opaque supply chains and/or lack of vertical integration

High degree of flexibility in procurement practices of downstream entities

Distribution of Labor Risk in Various Production Areas

Scale or nature of risk varies significantly based on geographic area of production

Scale or nature of risk is strongly associated with certain types of suppliers/entities

Scale or nature of risk is present across multiple tiers or nodes of supply chain (including in associated downstream or upstream goods)

  • The risk of labor abuses varies significantly based on geographic area of production; the risk of child labor has only been reported in Indonesia, Bolivia and the DRC, while the risk of forced labor is specific to the DRC.19A Collective Approach to Achieving A Sustainable Indonesian Tin Sector – Legacy Report of The Tin Working Group (TWG). aidenvironment and IDH, April 2017, ; Free The Slaves. ”Several Types of Slavery Linked to Congo’s Mining Industry.” HuffPost, 25 May 2011,  
  • The risk of child labor is strongly associated with small-scale or informal tin mining operated by families, rather than by large formal companies.20Sectoral survey of child labour in informal tin mining in Kepulauan Bangka Belitung Province, Indonesia 2014. International Labour Organization, 2015,–en/index.html. ; Harper, Jake. “PHOTOS: Dust And Danger For Adults — And Kids — In Bolivia’s Mines.” NPR, 17 November 2018, 

Linked Upstream and Downstream Risks

Risk in Nodes in Tin Production

Tin ore (cassiterite) is mined in large and small-scale or artisanal mines (ASM). It is then acquired by collectors and traders that sell the ore to independent smelters and refiners.21 The EPRM Due Diligence Hub. European Partnership – Responsible Minerals,   In Indonesia, ASM dominates the tin mining sector and there is only one large state-owned company that integrates the mining and smelting stages of production.22xxiv A Collective Approach to Achieving A Sustainable Indonesian Tin Sector – Legacy Report of The Tin Working Group (TWG). aidenvironment and IDH, April 2017   

After smelting, the refined tin is exported to component manufacturers, then to product manufacturers. Recycled products containing tin can be reintroduced into the production chain at the smelting/refining stage to produce new tin products.23The EPRM Due Diligence Hub. European Partnership – Responsible Minerals, 

Upstream traceability beyond the smelting stage of the tin supply chain is challenging due to the small-scale nature of tin mining and the presence of collectors that often operate outside of the law.24The EPRM Due Diligence Hub. European Partnership – Responsible Minerals,   The risk of child labor is only reported in the mining stage of production.25Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Mineral Supply Chains. OECD,   

Tin ore mining


Smelting & refining

Component manufacturing

End product manufacturing

Associated Downstream Goods and Consumer Sectors


Tin can be used in electronics such as phones. Tin is used for soldering materials in phones, connecting wires by melting on to electrical circuit boards and conducting electricity.

Energy and Electrical

Tin can be used to coat glass surfaces and enable electrical conductivity.

Food and Beverage

Tin has a high polish and can be used to coat other metals to prevent corrosion, such as food cans.

Top Global Countries

  1. Indonesia26 List of exporters for the selected product in 2021, Product : 80 Tin and articles thereof. ITC Trade Map,  
  2. Peru 
  3. Malaysia 
  4. Bolivia 
  5. China 
  6. Singapore 
  7. Belgium 
  8. Thailand 
  9. Brazil 
  10. Taiwan 

Examples & Resources: Traceability Efforts Associated With Tin