Minerals Mined to Fund Bloody Conflicts, End Up in Our Cell Phones

July 26, 2009

(ChattahBox)—The bloody war torn Democratic Republic of Congo is mining its rich mineral deposits to fund its ongoing war and bloodshed, and selling the precious minerals to scores of multinational companies, which eventually find their way in electronic devices. According to a report by Global Witness, nearly 240 companies may have blood on their hands, by virtue of closing their eyes to the origin of the minerals they purchase to manufacture cell phones, computers, MP3 players and other devices.

The minerals in our electronics devices may be akin to blood diamonds, and the problem may be worse than anyone has imagined. Democratic Republic of Congo or DRC is rich in mines containing cassiterite, wolframite, coltan and gold, all materials needed for electronics.

A Congolese government official reported that at least 90 percent of all gold exports from the DRC were undeclared, depriving the war ravaged country of taxes and wages. The Congolese army and FDLR rebel groups round up civilians to work in the mines as slaves, using the spoils of the mining operations to fund their bloody conflicts.

According to Global Witness, more than 5 million people have been killed since the civil war began in 1996, and it shows no signs of ending.

Global Witness is demanding that companies use due diligence to track the origin of the minerals they purchase through the supply chains. The organization is not claiming that companies are acting illegally, but ask that they employ higher standards to monitor trade transactions in conflict areas, such as the DRC.

Congo Global Witness researcher, Carina Tertsakian simplified the issue, “This is a question of will. If the companies are serious about trading in a way that is clean, they have the means to do it.”

The full Global Witness Report entitled, “Faced with a Gun, What Can You Do?” can be downloaded here.

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2 Responses to “Minerals Mined to Fund Bloody Conflicts, End Up in Our Cell Phones”

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