WHAT IS COLTAN?
Facts about the coltan
What is Coltan?
Coltan is short for Columbite-tantalite found in major quantities in the Congo. The Congo possesses 80 per cent of the world's coltan. The mineral coltan is one of the resources that is playing an important role in the technological revolution.
What it’s used for?
When coltan is refined it becomes a heat resistant powder that can hold a high electric charge. The property of refined coltan is a vital element in creating devices that store energy or capacitors, which are used in a vast array of small electronic devices, especially in mobile phones, laptop computers and other electronic devices.
Why it’s a conflict mineral?
Coltan is often mined by artisanal miners using their hands, with rock and sand being panned and filtered until the mineral sinks to the bottom.
The conditions are very harsh, working 12 hours per day and the safety procedures are non-existent.
Its exploitation in Africa has been, and is, linked to war conflicts aimed at gaining control of this material, coltan can be considered as the main cause that triggered the last war in the Congo.
The mining areas are controlled by armed factions and organized crime.
Illegal mining exploits child labour as well as destroying the habitats of many species such as chimpanzees and gorillas that are already in grave danger due to poaching and deforestation.