There are four minerals/resources/compounds used for the interior of cell phones, laptops, computers, etc. And those four minerals are gold, tin, tantalum, and tungsten. Gold is used to coat the wiring in electronics, and tin is used for circuit boards. Tantalum stores electricity, what these products run on, without tantalum, you wouldn’t be able to charge them. Finally, tungsten makes your phone vibrate, I don’t have much to say about this one… A lot of these resources are mined in Congo, especially tin. The problem with this is that armed groups control many of the mines there and make millions smuggling them past borders to ship them to either Thailand, China, Indonesia, or India. The millions that the groups earn get spent on weapons and other threats that are used to make the laborers work.
There are many issues with this but I’m going to be focusing on ethical and safety issues. The ethical issues are that the miners are forced to work under terrible conditions, earning almost nothing, even children are laboring, it can’t be good for them physically, emotionally, or mentally. Earning enough money for their family or just simply being threatened, or intimidated into working using abuse or rape are two of the reasons that this may be happening. Some of the safety issues are; cave-ins can happen at anytime in these mines, exposure to dust, or possibly toxic gasses, cause serious physical conditions, and the miners getting lost in the mines can be a problem, too.
Here’s my conclusion; I don’t think we should terminate the iPad or Computer program, because without those I wouldn’t necessarily be typing, learning, or doing research about this and you wouldn’t be reading this. But I do think we should start demanding conflict free products by maybe start sending mail to Apple and trying to raise awareness for conflict minerals. If we demand conflict-free devices and ignore the ones that include labor, we probably will get conflict-free devices. Also, we could improve the condition of the mines that we do receive the minerals from (of course that would take some time.)
BBC News. “DR Congo Minerals: Most Mines ‘conflict Free’ since US Law.” BBC News. BBC, 10 June 2014. Web.
ENOUGHproject. “Conflict Minerals 101.” YouTube. YouTube, 18 Nov. 2009. Web. 19 Nov. 2015.