Today, our delegation had an opportunity to learn more about the links between mining, conflict and oppression. Whether we know it or not, many of us take a little bit of the eastern Congo with us wherever we go. Modern electronic devices such as cellphones, tablets and laptops rely on metals such as tin, tungsten, tantalum and even gold. The eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo is an important source of the ores—minerals with exotic names like wolframite, cassiterite and columbite-tantalite (often abbreviated as “coltan”)—that yield these valuable metals. Since the mid-1990s, a range of actors, including foreign governments and rebel militias, have sought to capture this lucrative trade by annexing mining sites or by charging “taxes” on the movement of minerals through territory they control. The revenues earned from these activities have helped to finance the activities of rebel troops and government forces alike and have thus contributed to the duration and intensity of a conflict in which sexual violence has routinely been used as a weapon of war. This has led to these crucial ores being labeled “conflict minerals.”
Read the original post.