Technology is an exceedingly important source in daily our daily lives. With the increasing demand for technological materials, more pressure is being put into the dangerous, unguaranteed, mines that produce the minerals necessary for our devices. Many elements and compounds are used in our electronic devices, which produces more harms in the mines in many countries mainly throughout the continent of Africa. I recommend that the school use technology with a reasonable amount and check that the workers at the mine have a safe experience, a guaranteed wage, and a stable environment.
Four materials are used to provide us with the materials we use to create the technology we value for our work, education, lifestyle, and activities. Tungsten, Tin, Tantalum, and Gold, otherwise known as the 3TG, are the important sources which power our devices. Tungsten produces the vibration for our phones; *69,941 tons are produced each year with China being the producer of over three-fourths of the material. Tin is used for soldering electronic components. *222,255 tons are being produced annually with China behind 49% of the element. Producing over 609 tons, tantalum is a key role in our devices; it is used for the capacitors and condensers. *260 tons are mined in Mozambique, roughly 33% of the annual production/ Lastly, gold is being used for electronic components and decorations; *1234,6 tons generated with China leading over 13% of the world’s supplies. Thus, many elements and compounds are used in our valuable pieces of technology, most of them originating from the mines in Africa.
Conflict minerals occur throughout the areas of mines, where these minerals can be found. However, these mines were run militias, who would receive $185 million annually due to the mines they owned. Several countries, such as Angola, Burundi, the Central African Republic (CAR), and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), were some of the many countries involved in the illegal mines. Workers that were involved were not simply hired at their will. Situations across the nations included being physically forced, life-threatened, and involved the lives of other family members. Apart from these gruesome methods of being hired, work-conditions weren’t good either. There were many difficult, dangerous locations, as well as horrible, low-budget tools, not to mention tons of lifting and transporting, which may all lead to death. IN 1998, there were 5.4 million deaths. That’s equal to 3.5 times the population in Philadelphia! Thanks to the Dodd-Frank issue #1502 that was introduced in America, where industries are required to firms to determine the origin of materials used in products, conditions have improved. Now, conditions have grown, and ⅔ of the mines are not run by militias. Many in the world disagree with the production of technological gadgets. If the problem had not been considered, militias would still have had control over most of the mines, and mineral productions would decrease. That would lead to the plummets of industrial sales, decreasing the income for the companies, but also stocks would fall, leading to less investments in the future, and outbreaks of disappointment. In addition, environmental innovations would not work, leaving less resources and causing harmful diseases. Lastly, with the mines controlled by militias, more deaths will occur. With the increasing demand for more minerals, workers will be forced to work extra hours, take greater risks, and have less freedom. However, with more jobs, workers will get higher wages.
I think that we, as individual, mindful citizens, should think before we act. We should demand for the origin of the minerals, whether it was produced from the dangerous mines, or from mines run by the power of democratic citizens. This will give the workers more respect and dignity. Furthermore, militias will ban their ideas on conflict minerals, and hopefully, mines in the future will be safe. However, we should always have at least one source of technology each, such as a laptop, as it is a basic source of education, and with this, students will be empowered to raise awareness in the future about these problems. With the increasing demand for electronic materials, we should only stick to our laptops, for our ipads will encourage militias to commence operations in Africa.
Therefore, I think that with the hard conditions faced during work at the mines, we ought to show some respect to those working there. We should demand to know where our materials come from, and buy equipment that only comes from militia-free mines. As a responsible community, Yokohama International School (YIS) should stick to laptops only, not any iPads, as the demand for technology is increasing, and even more demands will encourage the militias to operate again.
Andre M. 7B Science
Venkel: Rivera, Alex. “Conflict Minerals Infographic.” Conflict Minerals Infographic. VENKEL, 2011. Web. 26 Nov. 2015.
BBC: Doyle, Mark. “DR Congo Minerals: Most Mines ‘conflict Free’ since US Law – BBC News.” BBC News. BBC, 10 June 2014. Web. 26 Nov. 2015.
SI: “What Are Conflict Minerals.” Source Intelligence. Source 44, AVALAUNCH, n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2015.