We use lots of technology in our everyday lives and what we don’t realize all the time is that you need conflict minerals in your phone to make it work. My piece of technology that I researched was the iPhone 6. It is developed by apple, and many people use it. Some conflict minerals in the iPhone 6 are the three t’s (Tin, Tungsten and Tantalum) and gold. It takes a lot of trouble to mine these conflict minerals, and a lot of bad things happen just to make a simple iPhone. The minerals I will be focusing on are Tin, Tantalum and gold.
Tin’s symbol in the periodic table is Sn. It’s atomic number is 50. Tin is mostly mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but is also mined in other places such as China, Indonesia and Brazil just to name a few. The way it get from the Congo to inside our devices is this. First, miners mine it from conflict zones, smuggle it from the conflict zones to smelting companies in Asia, and mix them with other minerals from the conflict zones. Finally they are processed into components. Tin is used to solder the circuit board. Tin is good for this part because it does not break the circuit board when it melts. It is also very easy to melt, and does not break the circuit board. Tin is used for this part because it is less fusible than other materials, and sticks easily.
Tantalum’s symbol in the periodic table is Ta. It’s atomic number is 73. Tantalum is mined mostly in parts of Southern Africa such as Mozambique, Rwanda, and of course, the Democratic Republic of Congo. Unlike Tin, Tantalum is used for multiple parts of the iPhone. The first, and main one, is to store electricity in your phone. Tantalum is good for this part because it is small and does not weigh down your phone, but it can carry a lot of capacity. The iPhone is trying to make their phones as light as possible, and that is why Tantalum is good for this part. Another way that Tantalum is used in technology is to create audio.
Gold’s symbol in the periodic table is Au. It’s atomic number is 79. Gold comes from the Congo and Peru. Gold is used for coating the wiring. Gold is used for this part because it is a good conductor and does not tarnish. The reason why being a good conductor helps with technology is because switching between components has to have a good conductor, and gold is good for conducting. Other materials that are good for conducting are copper and silver.
Conflict minerals might be good for making our phones, but making an iPhone is not worth it if lots of people get raped, injured or even killed trying to mine them. I learned that tin and gold is mainly in the Congo, and the mines in Congo force people to work by threatening their life, by physically making you work, by gun point, or many other horrible ways to make you work. Mines in the Congo are owned by armed groups, and all the money that the mines make goes to buying guns, grenades, machine guns, and many other weapons. The miners that work their butts off get poorly paid and illegally taxed. Some of the issues that lead to death are difficult locations and horrible tools, and many other conditions that may lead to death. Here is some evidence that the mines are horrible. Over 5.4 million deaths have occurred by mining conflict minerals.
Some ways that people can help stop this problem is writing letters to Apple, and making people aware that a making a simple iPhone can kill many people. I could ask a group that I am in, MS GIN CAS, to help put together a group that can write letters to Apple telling them to create non-conflict mineral phones. We could also put fliers around the school stating the problem. However, compared to all of Japan, YIS is very small. Adding on to the fliers and letters idea, much like how we visit the Chiku Center, we could spend time making people aware that there are conflict minerals in our phones. People can think twice before buying apple products, and ask if they have any conflict minerals inside. This way less people would buy conflict mineral technology.
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Forbes. Forbes Magazine, n.d. Web. 25 Nov. 2016.
ENOUGHproject. “Conflict Minerals 101.” YouTube. YouTube, 18 Nov. 2009. Web. 25 Nov. 2016.
News, BBC. “DR Congo Minerals: Most Mines ‘conflict Free’ since US Law.” BBC News. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Nov. 2016.
“The Many Uses of Gold.” Geology. N.p., n.d. Web.
“What Are Conflict Minerals?” Source Intelligence. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Nov. 2016.