Thursday, February 10, 2011

The exploitation of Coltan, environmental and human looting after our mobile phones

Today I will discuss a very disturbing subject matter and little known: the exploitation of Coltan in Africa. Coltan is the colloquial name given to the columbite-tantalite, a mineral natural properties has become strategic for the development of telecommunications, "smart" weapons and computer science. Illegal extraction is the origin of bloody tribal wars, you massacres human and animal, and enslaved and child labour.


The idea to this brief report came when I had the opportunity to receive article "The Coltan fever" Ramón Lobo and after reading few pages impacted me deeply the terrible situation described and - even more - great ignorance I had thereon. Trying to investigate on the internet I've noticed that you there a chord, spread is generally covered by a few media. Why we believe in bringing this subject ElBlogVerde, readers not only to spread the news, but also open to input from information that you can perform.


Let's start from the beginning, coltan it is a mineral that niobium and tantalum are extracted and is extremely scarce natural resource. About 20 years ago began to be coveted due to their unique properties: superconductivity, supports very high temperatures, is a capacitor (storing temporary electric charge and her freeing the when needed) and resistant to corrosion. Its main applications are mobile telephony, computers, games, smart weapons, implant medical, aerospace, among others.

The main producers worldwide are Australia, Brazil, Canada and some African countries such as People's Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Ethiopia. This "ranking" is based on legal mining statistics. But the reality is that 80% of the natural reserves on the planet are in Africa, and at the same time 80% of them in the Congo. This has led to the development of a huge illegal mining industry that literally sacks coltan of Congolese soil. Then trafficked mineral on the black market to a number of traders and intermediaries to huge multinational enterprises that manufacture our computers, video games and mobile phones.

This "fever" has a geopolitical background related to the occupation of a huge territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo by armies and guerrilla Rwanda and Uganda. This atrocious "the coltan war" taps into conflict ethnic and economic as the appropriation of this "strategic" mineral. He is estimated that over 5 million lives has already been claimed.


But killing extends even more as subhuman conditions of exploitation of coltan in alluvial mines (at land level) provide work of semiesclavos, for those who are prisoners or children .. Many die in mines or suffer the raw physical consequences of an unhealthy work.

Other victims of this bloody "fever of coltan," are the wild animals of the region. What you describe is also the case in "protected" by the Unesco: national parks in kahuzi-biega (in South Kivu) and Okapi. There, it is true ecological disaster that has left irreparable damage to the ecosystem. Thousands of elephants and gorillas are killed to feed mine workers.

There is definitely a lot more to tell on the subject of the exploitation of coltan, why we recommend continue reading more on the links listed at bottom of page.

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