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Conflict minerals are used by armed groups to fund violence and insurrection. Global Witness's work on conflict minerals currently focuses on the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where fighting has continued over 15 years, driven by the trade in valuable minerals. Millions of people have died, and many more have been displaced. There are four main minerals being mined in the Congo: cassiterite (the ore for tin), coltan (the ore for a rare metal called tantalum), wolframite (tungsten ore), and gold. The illicit trade provides rebel groups and units of the national army with tens of millions of dollars a year that they use to buy guns and shore up their rival campaigns.
Click here to watch Guardian film on violence in eastern Congo's mines
The electronics industry is one of the main destinations for these metals, which end up in mobile phones, laptops, and other consumer products. Tin is used as a solder in circuit boards; tantalum goes into capacitors, small components used to store electricity; tungsten is used in the vibrating function of mobile phones; gold is also used by the electronics industry – as a coating for wires.
World prices for each of these metals have been rising over the past year, giving armed groups in the eastern Congo all the more incentive to target or keep hold of the mines.
Global Witness is calling on the DRC government to demilitarise the mining sector immediately. We are also urging donor governments and electronics companies to do their bit to clean up this bloody trade by exercising proper controls over their supply chains.
- 07.05.2013 | New investigation from Global Witness reveals high-level military involvement in eastern Congo's gold trade
- 19.03.2013 | Congo warlord surrender offers opportunity for justice
- 10.12.2012 | Companies must come clean on conflict minerals lawsuit
- 29.11.2012 | Companies protect profits over people as fighting escalates in eastern DRC
- 14.11.2012 | Companies must take clear position on legal threat to Conflict Minerals Provision
- 22.08.2012 | FAQ: current situation in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo August 2012
- 22.08.2012 | Artisanal mining communities in eastern DRC: seven baseline studies in the Kivus
- 21.08.2012 | Implementing the Conflict Minerals Provision - The cost of business as usual
- 30.05.2012 | Coming clean: How supply chain controls can stop Congo's minerals trade fuelling conflict
- 21.05.2012 | Congo government enforces law to curb conflict mineral trade
- 27.01.2012 | EU takes step towards conflict-free supply chains
- 30.12.2011 | UN report calls for action to clean up Congo’s minerals trade and end impunity
- 11.10.2011 | Congo government requires domestic minerals sector to source responsibly
- 18.05.2011 | Congo's mineral trade in the balance: opportunities and obstacles to demilitarisation
- 14.12.2010 | Congolese army’s role in ‘conflict minerals’ trade must be recognised, says Global Witness
- 18.08.2009 | Bisie killings show minerals at heart of Congo conflict
- .. | Legislation
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