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Conflict Minerals in DRC: How Our Role as Consumers Can Make a Difference


Did You Know Your Electronic Devices Probably Support Conflict Minerals?

Yes, you read right. Your smartphone could be the cause for war, genocide and other crimes against humanity. You’re probably thinking: “There’s no way I can be part of what’s causing such terrible situations.” Reality is, you could, all because of the minerals found in your electronic devices.

According to Fairphone, there can be up to 40 minerals in a smartphone. On the list: tungsten, iron, copper, tantalum, nickel, tin, gold, silver, etc. The ones that interest us here are tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold (or 3TG), most commonly referred to as conflict minerals. Why conflict minerals? Because the exploitation and exportation of these minerals (and their derivatives) are financing conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo and adjoining countries.

Read full article here.

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Comment by Cristina Villegas on September 22, 2015 at 18:17

Hi Sarah, not sure if you saw the newest press about this but about 90% of all Central African tin is now considered conflict-free. Specific figures aren't available for tantalum but it's estimated that 40-50% of the world's entire tantalum output now passes through iTSCi, which is the only internationally-accepted conflict-free assurance system in operation (others are trying to come on board but it's slow-going). Maybe this is worth updates to your piece? Continued advocacy is important but it's also really important to acknowledge field-level programs that are actually putting miners back to work. Pact (www.pactworld.org/mining) is the lead implementer of iTSCi, which is an industry created initiative. We work with 80,000 miners on 800 3T mine sites in DRC, Rwanda, and Burundi here:  http://goxi.org/xn/detail/5786733:BlogPost:84527?xg_source=activity  (also on our Pact website: http://www.pactworld.org/sites/default/files/unconflicted.pdf). Initiatives in gold are being piloted in DRC by others, FYI. We aren't yet working with that material in the Great Lakes (though we work on it elsewhere). 

Best wishes, Cristina 

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