Thursday, February 26, 2009

Congo Conflict minerals

The conflict in eastern Congo, the deadliest in the world since World War II, is being fueled by a multi-million dollar trade in minerals that go into our electronic products from cell phones to digital cameras.  Over five million people have died as a result of the war, and the United Nations estimates that 200,000 women have been raped in eastern Congo over the past decade.  The armed groups that are perpetuating the violence generate over $100 million each year by trading in three main minerals, the 3 Ts:

•    Tin – used as a solder on circuit boards inside cell phones and laptops.  70% of the world’s tin is used as solder, and 5-10% of tin ore comes from eastern Congo. 
Tantalum – used to store electricity in iPods, digital cameras, and cell phones.  70% of the world’s tantalum is used in electronic products, and 15% comes from Congo.
Tungsten – used to make your cell phone or Blackberry vibrate.  Tungsten is a growing source of income for armed groups in Congo.

In late 2008, UN investigations revealed that key tin smelting companies, who sell tin to the major electronics companies, are buying tin ore directly from rebel-held areas in eastern Congo.   The money that the rebels generated from those tin sales is now allowing them to buy even more weapons and continue to kill, rape and loot across eastern Congo.

Changes the way one looks at gadgets . So far one thought of gadgets only from an environment angle .

This is yet another stark reminder of the role businesses play in shaping and impacting lives across the planet. 

1 comment:

Arvind said...

My dear Savitha,

Businesses today have an objective of growing continuously. The problem lies here. The only thing in nature that keeps growing continuously is Cancer. And cancer, as we all know feeds on its host. Gone are the days when a Sweet maker (Halwai) was content to sustain his customers and his small business through generations. All want to go the way of Haldiram - Westernisation of our way of thinking. That 'small" can be "beautiful" is lost to us.


Arvind Kaul