Jewish World Watch > Conflict Areas > Congo > Overview > Conflict Minerals
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Conflict Minerals

Artisanal Gold Mine – Bunia, Eastern Congo

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 hundreds of thousands of women have been raped in eastern Congo over the past decade. The armed groups that are perpetrating the violence generate an estimated $144 million each year by trading in four main minerals, the 3 Ts and gold:

Tin Used inside your cell phone and all electronic products as a solder on circuit boards. 53% of tin worldwide is used as a solder, the vast majority of which goes into electronics. Armed groups earn approximately $85 million per year from trading in tin.

Tantalum (often called “coltan”)Used to store electricity in capacitors in iPods, digital cameras, and cell phones. 65-80% of the world’s tantalum is used in electronic products. Armed groups earn an estimated $8 million per year from trading in tantalum.

Tungsten Used to make your cell phone or Blackberry vibrate. Tungsten is a growing source of income for armed groups in Congo, with armed groups currently earning approximately $2 million annually.

Gold Used mainly in jewelry, gold is also a component in electronics. Extremely valuable and easy to smuggle, armed groups are earning between $44-88 million per year from gold.

All of these minerals are used in our every-day electronics – from cell phones, to laptops, to ipods, we may well be unwittingly helping to continue the genocide.

We’re not asking companies to pull up stakes in Congo and take their business elsewhere – that would just hurt the Congolese. What we’re asking is for companies to make sure any minerals they do buy aren’t passing through tainted hands, much as the diamond industry learned to avoid blood diamonds from West Africa. This will not only disempower the armed groups profiting from the trade in illegal minerals, it will also strengthen legitimate mining in Congo.

Take Action!

The trade in illegally extracted minerals finances the armed groups that commit mass atrocities in Congo. Until we address this root cause of the conflict, sexual violence, murder and displacement will continue to destroy Congolese communities.
Click here to take action to end the trade in conflict minerals!

Resources on Conflict Minerals
A Scramble for Tin in Congo (slideshow, New York Times)

A Comprehensive Approach to Congo’s Conflict Minerals (Enough Project)

The Three T’s and Gold: Armed Groups’ Profits 2008 (Enough Project)

Companies Trading in DRC Conflict Minerals (Global Witness)

Faced with a Gun, What Can You Do? (Global Witness Conflict Minerals Report, July 2009)