What Elements are in iPhones?

People use a lot of technology in this time of history. Many types of technology are used such as phones, computers, T.Vs or even video game consoles, but what we all want to know is what is in an iPhone? A huge part of any piece of technology are four elements which are Tungsten, Tin, Tantalum, and Gold. Those elements are also called the 3TG’s. Basically, there are things called conflict minerals which are mostly mined in the DRC (the Democratic Republic of the Congo). Conflict minerals are pretty much exactly how they sound: minerals and elements that cause conflict. The DRC is the most mineral rich country in the world. On the other hand, the DRC is also one of the most war-torn and dangerous countries in the world. This is mostly because of conflict minerals which are forced to be mined in terrible conditions and also without much pay. The rebels as well as the government force the residents of the DRC to mine in terrible conditions with the threat of violence such as rape and murder to themselves and their family in their mind.


Gold is used in the iPhone circuit boards. This is because gold can conduct electrons which make electricity very easily. Gold also has a very low electrical resistance so that it doesn’t destroy or damage as quickly as other metals. Gold’s atomic number is 79. On the periodic table, gold’s symbol is Au. Gold’s melting point is at 1,064ºC. Gold is also the most expensive metal used in all iPhones. Gold is found and mined in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Tantalum is used as the camera lens in an iPhone. This is because when Tantalum is refined it can become a heat resistant material specifically a powder. Tantalum is also used in the iPhone because Tantalum can hold a high electrical charge. As of February 2014, Apple guaranteed the use of conflict free Tantalum. Tantalum’s atomic number is 73. On the periodic table, tantalum’s symbol is Ta. Tantalum has a melting point of 3,020ºC. Tantalum is found and mined in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Tin is used as a Solder for electric wire boards inside an iPhone. Tin is also used to solder wires of different properties together. This is because Tin can melt and solder wires of different properties together without breaking the wires. This is because Tin’s melting point is 231.9ºC. Tin’s atomic number is 50. On the periodic table, tin’s symbol is Sn. Tin is mostly found in China but Tin can also be found in Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Tungsten in an iPhone is the most common material used in an iPhone vibration unit. This is because Tungsten is a very dense metal. If an iPhone didn’t have Tungsten in it, then the iPhone would fall silent. Tungsten is also used in the wire boards. Tungsten’s melting point is 3422ºC. Tungsten’s atomic number is 74. On the periodic table, Tungsten’s symbol is W. Tungsten is mostly found and mined in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but it can also be found and mined in Canada.


A safety issue with these minerals is about the miners that mine for these elements. The miners are forced to mine for these materials by the rebels or the DRC Government. They are forced to work very long hours with little to no pay in very dangerous conditions such as having very old and non efficient tools to mine these elements. If the miners refuse to do their work, major damages will be done to themselves and their family such as murder and rape. The rebels also have very advanced guns that they use to threaten families to work.

A financial issue is that the miners are barely paid in very harsh conditions. However, the military troops that own the mine benefit greatly by smuggling the conflict minerals to the east coast of Africa to be shipped to factories that make electronics. The military troops then gain a lot of money through trade with other countries and also by taxing the miners for living in the militias territory. The militias then spend the money they gain through their trade with other countries on guns, bombs, and whatever else they can use to intimidate the miners into working harder to get more conflict minerals and elements that they can use to gain more money through trade.

An ethical issue with mining conflict minerals is the harsh conditions that miners have to mine in. The miners have to mine the conflict minerals with very old and rusted tools. Another ethical issue is that the miners have to mine long hours with little to no pay. If the miners refuse to do the work that the militias force them to do, they and their family gets punished. The number continuing to grow every day, over 5.4 million people have died while mining conflict minerals. That is more than the US Revolution, the US Civil War, the Vietnam war and, the Korean war.


We could inform Apple about all the terrible things that is happening in the DRC. Since Apple already guaranteed conflict free Tantalum as of February 2014, we could take that one step farther and inform Apple about other conflict minerals such as Tin, Tungsten, and Gold in which Apple uses in all of it’s electronics. We could also inform apple about the terrible conditions the people who mine conflict minerals in. If they don’t do work, their family gets punished by rape, and murder. This intimidates their family so that they will do the work with rape and murder as a punishment in their minds. This could work because if Apple just recognises how terrible conflict minerals are, they might make a difference in what they put into their electronic

We could inform our school about conflict minerals, how they work and the terrible conditions of the workers in the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. We could do this via the MS Daily or the HS Daily. This would inform everybody about the terrible things that happen in Eastern Congo such as the terrible pay, and the punishments for the people that refuse to do the work that they are forced to do. This could make people really think about the type of electronics they are getting and maybe make different choices than they would’ve done.


Apple. “IPhone 6s.” Apple. Apple, 2016. Web. 24 Nov. 2016. <http://www.apple.com/shop/buy-iphone/iphone6s>.

Desjardins, Jeff. “The Extraordinary Raw Materials in an IPhone 6s.” Visual Capitalist. Jeff Desjardins, 10 Mar. 2016. Web. 24 Nov. 2016. <http://www.visualcapitalist.com/extraordinary-raw-materials-iphone-6s/>.

Neo Mammalian Studios. “Mining & IPhone Recycling.” 911 Metallurgist. 911 Metalliurgist, 2013. Web. 24 Nov. 2016. <https://www.911metallurgist.com/mining-iphones/>.

Conflict Minerals 101. Dir. ENOUGHproject. Perf. John Prendergast. Conflict Minerals 101. ENOUGHproject, 18 Nov. 2009. Web. 24 Nov. 2016.

Source 44. “What Are Conflict Minerals?” Source Intelligence. Source 44, 2015. Web. 24 Nov. 2016. <http://www.sourceintelligence.com/what-are-conflict-minerals/>.


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