Having seen Blood Diamond and read several articles about how the mining of diamonds in Africa was killing hundreds of thousands of its citizens, I consider myself aware of the crisis that diamonds have caused. What I was not aware of, however, was that the mining of the metal used in electronic components, such as those found in used cell phones, has become just as serious of a problem as the Congo is still a war zone because of the struggle to control the mines from which these metals come.
According to the Enough Project, the mining of Tungsten, Tantalum, Gold, and Tin for the production of electronic components, like those in cell phones, has provided more than $100 Million Dollars to rebel armies in the Congo and has resulted in the deaths of more than 5 Million people in the area. This money is used to buy weapons in order to brutally control the mines and torture their own people. In addition to using firearms to force locals into mining for these elements, the rebels have been using the rape of local women as a tool to maintain their control. It has been estimated that more than 100,000 women have been raped in the past ten years as a result of this conflict in the Congo.
If companies, governments, and other stakeholders can agree on a system to trace, audit, and certify conflict-free minerals that go in our electronics products, the mining of these elements could be one of the most crucial pillars of stability upon which the countries of Africa can build peaceful civilizations. Sadly, however, nothing will change unless we, the consumers, start demanding it. The Enough Project has made it easy for you make your voice heard in the fight to stop the killing in the Congo by texting “CongoPledge” to ACTION (228466). Another simple way to be a part of the change is to diminish the demand of these metals for the creation of new cell phones, by purchasing used and refurbished cell phones.