People use technology in everyday life. It can be an smartphone, computer, T.V or even an electronic game. But what is exactly in a iPhone? A big part of iPhones is something called conflict minerals. Conflict minerals are Tungsten, Tantalum,Gold and Tin (these can also be called the 3TG’s) or any other type of mineral mined in the DRC (Democratic of Congo) that has funding conflict in the DRC or surrounding countries. DRC is the most mineral rich country in the world. However the DRC is also one of the most dangerous and war-torn countries in the world due to civil wars. This is partly due to conflict minerals which are mined by forced labour by residents of the DRC often without pay. The rebel factions as well as the government force the people of the DRC to mine at gun point or with threats about loved ones.
Gold is used in the iPhone circuit boards and wiring becuase Gold can conduit electrons which make electricity very well and has a low electrical resistance so it doesn’t corrode as fast as some other metals. Gold is also used in jewelry and coins. On the periodic table Gold’s symbol is Au. Gold has a melting point of 1,064 ºC. Also, Gold is the most expensive metal in the iPhone. Gold is found in the DRC. Gold has an atomic number of 79.
Tantalum is used in the iPhone as the camera lens because when Tantalum is refined it can be a heat resistant powder. Tantalum is also used in the iPhone because Tantalum can hold a high electrical charge. Tantalum is also used in capacitors, condensers, cutting tools, and vacuum tube filaments. On the periodic table Tantalum’s symbol is Ta. Also Tantalum has a melting point of 3,020 ºC. Tantalum is found in the DRC. Tantalum has an atomic number of 73.
Tungsten is used in the iPhone to make the phone vibrate becuase Tungsten is a dense metal. Outside of the iPhone Tungsten is used for vacuum tube filaments, electronic lights, contact points in cars, electrodes, rocket engine nozzle and cutting tools. On the periodic table Tungsten’s symbol is W. Tungsten also has a melting point of 3,422 ºC. Tungsten is found in the DRC. Tungsten has a atomic number of 74.
Tin is used in the iPhone as solder for electronic components inside of the iPhones. Tin can also be used for coating steel cans, bearing alloys and glass making. Tin has a melting point of 231.9ºC. On the periodic table Tin has a symbol of Sn. Tin is usually found in China and Indonesia but can still be found in the DRC. Lastly, Tin has an atomic number of 50.
A safety issue with this minerals is for the miners who find these minerals. The miners are forced to work by the government or rebel factions in the DRC with long hours and little to no pay in dangerous conditions. The miners are hired at gun point,physically forced, or to protect their family. Also if the miners refuse to work the government or rebel faction will threaten the miners family or kill the miner.
An ethical issue with this material is the harsh conditions which the miners are put through. Another ethical issue is how the miners have to work long hours with no pay in the mines. Also most of the miners are forced to work by government troops (FARDC).
Some financial issues are for the miners since they are barely paid or not payed at all. However the owners of the mine benefit from selling the rare conflict minerals to electronic manufacturers across the world.
One way we could help is use products from companies that have been audited for conflict minerals to reduce the production and distribution of conflict minerals. So, we should buy electronic products from companies like Apple or Intel smartphones who audit for conflict minerals.
Another way we could help is to donate money as a whole school to a reliable charity like RAISE HOPE FOR CONGO or War Child who spread awareness about Conflict minerals and try to end the production and distribution of Conflict minerals. In addition RAISE HOPE FOR CONGO and War Child attempts to protect families in the DRC.
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