How To Stop Conflict Minerals

How to Stop Conflict MineralsThe Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is one of the richest countries in the world when it comes to mineral wealth. Unfortunately, it is also the poorest. The eastern part of the DRC is plagued by a corrupt and unstable government as well as militia groups that continue to threaten and wreak havoc on the region. With a long history of violence and conflict, what goes on in the DRC tends to remain hidden from public eye. But not anymore. a

In this month's issue of National Geographic, a 125th Anniversary Collector's Edition that celebrates the publication's photographic prowess, you will not only find pages filled with breathtaking landscapes and beautiful faces, but also a modern-day horror story. The October issue of the magazine features an article written byaJeffrey Gettleman, with photography by Marcus Bleasdale, that gives voice to and visually captures the unspeakable violence of mineral extraction in the DRC.

Look back a decade and the term "conflict mineral" would bring to mind diamondsa—aspecifically, blood diamonds. But flash forward to today, and even more minerals and metals have been added to the list. Used to fund criminal activities, minerals such as tungsten, tin,agold, cobaltaand tantalum are illegally mined, smuggled and sold to manufacturers worldwide. With a significant portion of these specialty metals stemming from the conflict-ridden, war-torn province in the Congo, it is very likely that somewhere down the pipeline, some of these conflict materials have found their way into one of the many electronic devices you use on a daily basis.

How can we stop conflict minerals?

For years now, global supply chains have been contributing to funding the armed conflict and human rights violations running rampant in the Eastern Congo. With tantalum — a corrosion-resistant mineral used to make small capacitors often found in electronic devices — 20 to 50 percent of its global supply comes from the Eastern Congo. What is to say that somewhere down the supply pipeline, conflict tantalum hasn't made its way into one of your electronics?