Minerals In Technology- iPhones

          iPhones are used each and everyday by communicating with others, playing games, taking pictures, looking up stuff, and many other uses. This leads to us using many minerals in the technology and it could lead to tragic consequences without people understanding what is really behind the picture of producing their iPhone. The iPhones greatest conflict minerals are Tin, Tungsten, Tantalum, and Gold. These materials cause major impacts on the lives of the miners who dig up the minerals. They have to work in tragic working conditions to get that device that we always dream of having.

          Tin is useful in making your iPhone be created. The name comes from the Anglo-Saxon ‘tin’. Tin had a direct impact on human history mainly on account of bronze. It was also mined in China and found in the mountain citadel of the Incas. The symbol for Tin is Sn containing an atomic number of 50 and a relative atomic mass of 118.710. The melting point of tin is 231.928°C meanwhile the boiling point is 2586°C. Electron configuration is the distribution of electrons of an atom or molecule  in atomic or molecular orbitals. The electron configuration of tin is [Kr] 4d105s25p2. In our iPhones, tin is used as a solder on the circuit boards and is used to coat other metals. They use this because while having a lower melting point than other metals, tin is easily melted and connect wires together making it a complete circuit. Another reason why they use tin is because it can be used to coat other metals to prevent corrosion. Tin is mined in  Congo, Brazil, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Bolivia, and Thailand. Although all of these place of the world consist of large amounts of tin, Cornwall, England is the leading producer.

  The next material, Tungsten is also used in our iPhones. The name comes from Swedish “tung sten” meaning heavy stone. The symbol for tungsten, W, comes from tungsten’s Latin name Wolfram. It was discovered in 1783 by Juan Jose and Faust Elhuijar from Spain. It has the highest melting point of any element and often is used in alloys that must resist great amounts of heat. The atomic number of tungsten is 74 and the relative atomic mass is 183.84. The melting point is 3414°C while the boiling point is 5555°C. The electron configuration of Tungsten is [Xe] 4f145d46s2. In our technology, tungsten is used to make your phone vibrate and does a team called the tungsten copper heat sink. The vibration is useful for text and if you still play POKEMON GO. This is used because the density of tungsten alloy is so high and the maximum density should be 18.6g/cm3. Tungsten copper heat sink is a term for a component or assembly that transfers heat generated within a solid material to a fluid medium, such as air or a liquid. Tungsten copper heat sink not only has low thermal expansion properties of the tungsten, but also has high thermal conductivity characteristics of the copper. This is valuable because the thermal expansion coefficient and the thermal conductivity of the iPhone material composition allows you to adjust the application of design and materials in the iPhone, which has brought great convenience. Tungsten is mined in China, Russia, Portugal, Austria and Bolivia but Congo makes profit. Consequently, China is reported to have about 75% of the world’s tungsten supply.

Tantalum is another element that is used to make an efficient iPhone. Named after the legendary Greek figure King Tantalus. It was discovered in 1802 by Anders Ekenberg from Sweden. The symbol for Tantalum is Ta. It has an atomic number of 73 and a relative atomic mass of 180.948. The melting point is 3017°C and the boiling point is 5455°C. The electron configuration of Tantalum is [Xe] 4f145d36s2. Tantalum is used to store electricity in your phone, if you didn’t have it, your phone would die. It is used as a capacitor because it can hold a high amount of electrical charge.Tantalum is mined in AustraliaBrazilCanada and Central Africa.

          Finally, Gold is an essential mineral needed to produce an effective iPhone. The name is the Anglo-Saxon word for the metal and the symbol comes from the Latin “durum”. Gold has been very well known even in prehistoric times containing a very important value in life as it is today. It is mined in Denver, Colorado and Papua, Indonesia but Congo makes profit.The symbol for gold is Au and it has an atomic number of 79 and a relative atomic mass of 196.967. The melting point of gold is 1064.18°C while the boiling point is 2836°C. The electron configuration of gold is [Xe] 4f14 5d10 6s1. In iPhones, gold is used to coat the wiring and are used in the computer chips to create circuits. Gold is used because it conducts electricity really well and does not corroded making it last longer. They don’t use other materials like iron or copper because it would quickly corrode since it is exposed to the air. After all, gold is a critically used mineral in iPhones and it is also the most valuable metal used.

An ethical issue is that the children are put through harsh and stressful conditions. “War can be particularly devastating for children. They often find themselves separated from their families and at huge risk of physical harm, violence or sexual exploitation. They suffer physical and psychological damage that can last a lifetime.”  This quote shows how children are suffering and taking really big and difficult risk that can decide if they either live or die. People  shouldn’t be put in that situation especially children because you also learn many meaningful lessons that could lead to a major impact in your future life.

There are major government problems swell, but one is explained by Marcus Bleasedale from National geographic stating that there isn’t any control in the government.  There is really bad government if there is one in the region its more of a military led control giving harsh orders and they are being selfish taking the minerals for their own profit.  This is unbalancing the government and the economy having more lasting consequences on the workers.

After all, these materials that don’t seem that important to use lead to drastic consequences and mean the life to many people in Congo. In Congo, people are hired by gun point, life threats, physically forced, and is needed for your family very much. The working conditions are horrible including difficult locations, horrible tools, tons of lifting, and it may lead to death. To solve this problem people are needed to be informed about these situations because so many people don’t have a clue about this. When they notice the problem,the government will convince other people and countries. This would help because they will lead groups to stop these problems and make Congo become a better community for people. In conclusion, this main problem can be solved if we all work together. This might not mean a lot to you, but this means so the life to suffering people in Congo.


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“Conflict Minerals from the Congo to Your Cellphone.” PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 22 Nov. 2016. <http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/entertainment-july-dec13-bleasdale_10-05/>.

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“What Are Conflict Minerals?” Source Intelligence. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Nov. 2016. <https://www.sourceintelligence.com/what-are-conflict-minerals/>.





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