By Anchita Kaushik, Grade 10
As the demand for electronics like smartphones, MP3’s, iPods, and cell phones increases, so does the number of consumers who inquire about the sources of metals like tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold. The Democratic Republic of Congo is in the eye of the storm for these “conflict minerals.”
Congo is a resource-rich country inhabited by 70 million people. It has already suffered decades of military conflicts, and the riches presently being extracted only make the problems faced by its citizens worse. Mines located in eastern Congo are found in isolated regions, smack-dab in the middle of armed guerillas who have claimed the areas as their own. The results are brutal. Rape and violence are commonplace. Miners, many of whom are children, work for up to 48 hours straight, under the risk of mudslides and tunnel collapses.
By Sophia Yamauchi, Grade 10
Coltan, or columbite-tantalite, is a “vital” mineral used in electronic devices. Sadly, the way this mineral is extracted is not always legal, and workers are hardly ever treated fairly.
Coltan is mined in many parts of the world, including Canada, but the majority of the coltan mines are found in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is from coltan that the elements niobium and tantalum are extracted, and the latter is used in electronic devices such as mobile phones, computers, and video game systems.
Over the past decade, the contentious issue of conflict minerals (minerals extracted from a region entangled in armed conflict) has been growing. The documentary Blood in the Mobile has brought it to many people’s attention. This documentary talks about the use of conflict coltan in Nokia’s mobile phones. Viewers follow a man in search for an answer to a simple question: “Do you know where the source of your coltan comes from?” When it seems that no answer can be found, he sets out to the Republic of Congo to get a first-hand look at what is really happening. The truth is awful: (more…)