Nowadays there is a constant urge to upgrade cell phones, cameras, video game consoles, computers and other electronics to keep up with the latest trends or for some just a fashion statement. Little do we know that it all has dire consequences.
No not the fact that we are being immoral that so many people don’t have the opportunity to afford these luxuries but its more related to a substance known as Coltan that goes into manufacturing these devices.
What is Coltan?
Coltan is the industrial name for columbite–tantalite, a dull black metallic mineral that is found around the world but with 80% of the reserve found in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Unfortunately, its not just a simple process to mine this ore as the mines in this region are mainly controlled by militia rebels that have come in from neighboring countries. They have taken over local farmers land, their livestock, raping woman and also large scale massacres.
Without any means of living the people are forced to mine, mostly children and the younger generation who find them selves slaving under the watchful guard of armed militia men.
While they manage to earn a living, the Coltan is sold to multi-million dollar companies to make tantalum capacitors that finds its way in our homes via electronic devices.
According to wiki, an estimated 6.9 million people have died since 1998 in the war in the Congo. While wild life direct states that, every day in Congo, 1,500 people die as a direct or indirect result of the Coltan mining conflict.
The situation is not only grave for humans but also the ecosystem. Forests are being destroyed for the mines, destroying the fragile habitat of the endangered mountain gorillas.
That’s not all, the hungry miners, situated miles away from food sources, prefer to hunt down these gorillas and consume their meat, putting these animals on a critically endangered list.
There are quite a few documentaries highlighting the plight and how the Coltan industry works, we came across this French documentary know as Blood Coltan, where a bunch of French journalists go deep into the Congo to find out what’s really going on.
Perhaps money should not be the only reason to hold back on that upgrade, perhaps this leaves us to think of why we need to be self sustainable yet again.