If you have a cell phone, DVD player or use a computer then chances are that some part of these devices are made of Coltan. Coltan and Cassiterite are minerals found mainly in the Congo where it’s exploitation has been linked to the deadly conflicts and human abuses.
These mines are typically worked by children
The good news is that U.S. Senators Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) have introduced the Conflict Coltan and Cassiterite Act, legislation which would require certification of minerals imported from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Their press release earlier this year
“We are witnessing a grave humanitarian crisis in Congo, and we must act now to put an end to the death and suffering,” said Brownback. “Everyday, Americans use products that have been manufactured using inhumanely mined minerals. The legislation introduced by Senator Durbin and I will bring accountability and transparency to the supply chain of minerals used in the manufacturing of many electronic devices.”
Every day in Congo, 1,500 people die as a direct or indirect result of the conflict over the mining of minerals like cassiterite and coltan; to date, the conflict has displaced more than 1.3 million Congolese and has resulted in over 5.4 million deaths.
“Without knowing it, tens of millions of people in the United States may be putting money in the pockets of some of the worst human rights violators in the world, simply by using a cell phone or laptop computer,” Durbin said. “We ought to do all we can to make sure that the products we use and the minerals we import, in no way support those who violate human rights abroad.”
The Conflict Coltan and Cassiterite Act requires the President to compile a list of armed groups in the DRC committing serious human rights violations, and prohibits the importation into the U.S. of any product containing columbite-tantalite (“coltan”) or cassiterite (tin ore) from the DRC if groups on the list would financially benefit.
Approximately 65% of the world’s coltan reserves are located in Congo. Congolese civilians are terrorized and brutalized by warring rebel groups seeking to capitalize on the mining of these minerals. Coltan is commonly used in electronic devices like cell phones, computers, and DVD players.