Business, Finance & Economics

Congo and your cellphone

(Connect the dots between the fact that there is coltan in Congo and the bloodshed there.) It's a mineral that can be easily mined on a low tech basis, so it can be done by anyone in the region. So the rival factions either control the coltan deposits directly or small groups of people will mine it and then the armed groups will extract taxes of pay offs. (Is this a story of blood phone?) That's an exaggeration. If you're in Congo, coltan is valuable, it's contributing to the war, but less than 2% of the world's coltan comes out of Congo. (Where in your phone do you find coltan?) it's used in something called a capacitor which is a very common component in all sorts of electric devices. Coltan is resistant to corrosion and also has a high melting point. (How important is it to Nkunda to be in control of Congo's coltan?) I think minerals in general, coltan, tin, cobolt, is the way all armies there finance themselves. (Do companies have strategies in place for dealing with receiving coltan from Congo?) This was a big issue in 2000 when there was a huge spike in the price of coltan and at that time a number of companies took steps to ensure their suppliers were not sourcing coltan from conflict regions, and they still do that today. But when the mineral has been refined it's impossible to tell where it's come from and it'd be impossible to say that some coltan is not coming from Congo.

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(This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.)

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