[h=1][/h]Gold miners at the Chudja mine in north-eastern Congo. Picture: File By ESTHER NAKKAZI Posted Monday, December 26 2011 at 00:00 Trade in blood minerals that has been funding civil wars in the Great Lakes region could soon end. A laboratory to analyse mineral traces and dealers will soon open in Tanzania. The hi-tech laboratory uses geochemical fingerprinting to isolate traders of these minerals and their sources. The International Conference on the Great Lakes (ICGLR) region based in Bujumbura, is leading this initiative, and is set to receive $7 million from Germany to set up the first phase of the facility. The fingerprinting technique will increase the sale of minerals from genuine traders, and improve peace and security in the region. Some minerals can no longer be sold because traders do not have proof of origin. This system will help them prove that what they are selling is conflict free, said Silas Sinyigaya, the ICGLR programme Officer for Good Governance and Democracy. The lab will enable ICGLR to provide a certification trading chain to get rid of minerals that largely finance conflict around the Great Lakes region. Forensic tests on minerals will confirm such contentious issues as the area of origin, traceability, supply chain structure and transparency, which entails their financial movement and confirmation of payment of their accurate taxes.The proposed site for the laboratory is the Southern and Eastern African Mineral Centre (SEAMIC), a leading minerals services provider in the region, based in Dar es Salaam. Minerals will be certified by ICGLR under the protocol on illegal exploitation of natural resources for the 11 member states, including all East African Community countries. According to ICGLR, the lab will also analyse the conditions under which the minerals were extracted, in a bid to establish whether child labour, occupational safety, community development and security forces presence in the area of mining were involved. It will also determine respect of human rights in the area. Initially, the project will target Gold, Coltan (Tantalum and Niobium), Cassiterite and Walframite, which are the most exploited by armed groups in the region and valued for use by the electronic industry, said Sinyigaya. International laws link The law to use or trade in these minerals is in some countries severe. For example, the United States government passed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in July 2010. This law requires all extractive companies that trade on the New York Stock Exchange to disclose payments made to any governments throughout the world for commercial development of oil, natural gas or minerals. If a dealer in the Great Lakes region attempted to sell minerals on the US market, it would be difficult to gain access without proof of origin and certification, which the fingerprinting technique developed by the German Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources seeks to ease, for lawful dealers. According to the Hannover based company, the fingerprinting technique involves a combination of mineralogy, chemical analysis of the composition of both the concentrates and the individual grains, along with establishing the age of the core. Certification at the regional level: The system is already under trial in Rwanda, in a pilot project for the region that may see the country become the first in the Great Lakes region to issue a national certificate guaranteeing conflict-free minerals.