Enough experts lead you down the path of the 3Ts—tin, tantalum, tungsten—and gold from the mines of Eastern Congo all the way to your cell phone.
At present, the only system that the exporters use to avoid buying conflict minerals is verbal assurance: they simply ask, “Did you get this from a conflict area?”
Increasing pressure on electronics companies to ensure that their products do not contain illicit minerals from the killing fields in eastern Congo is beginning to have a significant impact. With bills on conflict minerals moving through Congress, the electronics industry has spent about $2 million per month lobbying Senate offices to relax the legislation, which would increase transparency in the supply chains for tin, tantalum, and tungsten, or the 3Ts.
These mineral ores, as well as gold, are key elements of electronics products including cell phones and personal computers, and also are the principal source of revenue for armed groups and military units that prey on civilians in eastern Congo. Congo’s mineral wealth did not spark the conflict in eastern Congo, but war profiteering has become the fuel that keeps the region aflame and lies beneath the surface of major regional tensions.
Source: Grassroots Reconciliation Group / Sasha Lezhnev