I was shocked last night after watching Ross Kemp’s episode of Extreme World: Congo. Congo has civil war going on since 2003 and the whole world is ignoring it. The reason? Mobile Phones, Laptops and other electronic devices we use daily.
While this subject is not directly connected to social media I think it’s still important to know that the devices from which social media was born and exists are made from minerals which Ross Kemp calls blood minerals.
Congo has a lot of rare minerals, the most important being gold and coltan. Coltan (or correctly named Columbite-tantalite) is the metal ore from which the element tantalum is extracted which is used primarily for the production of capacitors. And these capacitors are used in electronic goods, like your anti-lock braking systems in your car, your laptop, mobile phone, video game consoles, video cameras and digital cameras. Notably is that 80%(!) of the world’s coltan comes from Congo
The mines where these minerals are mined are run by militia and rebel groups who use the mining to fund their rebellion. During their rebellion these people have killed over 5 million people and the raping of women and children has become something normal in Congo. The rebels treat the mine workers as slaves. The men are threaten with the killing of their families and the women are threaten with the rape of them and their children if they don’t work in the mines.
The minerals are mined and then sold to the world biggest electronic corporations. Because 80% of the world coltan is from congo almost every electronic device you can imagine has minerals from the blood mines in congo in it. Probably even the laptop I’m typing this blog with…
In the youtube video I added is explained how the rebels use rape as their main tool to intimidate people, and how the ore is used and transported out of Congo to the rest of the world.
Maybe the “normal” person didn’t know about this, I didn’t at least. But the international companies who provide us with electronics must have known this. I can’t help to think how this is still happening?