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Conflict Minerals

Funding wars and child labor in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Image of Conflict Minerals
Photo by TTstudio/Shutterstock
Area(s)
Democratic Republic of Congo
Sector
Mining

Mining

Uses
Electronics and jewelry.

Worst Concerns

  • Poor health and safety

    Poor Health and Safety

  • Child labor

    Child Labor

  • Forced or slave labor

    Forced Labor

  • Disaster risk.

    Disaster Risk

Concerns

Conflict minerals include tantalum, tin, tungsten, platinum, and gold. They’re so-called because their sale helps fund wars.

Globally, mining is very dangerous, with risk of injury from heavy equipment, landslides, or getting trapped in a mine.

The mines of eastern Congo are even deadlier because of ongoing conflict there that has led to 5.4 million deaths to date. This warfare is predominantly funded by the illicit sale of metals mined in the Congo, smuggled out through neighboring countries, and ultimately used in electronic devices. Congolese miners often do not work voluntarily and live in very poor conditions. The US Department of Labor also reports that children in the Congo have been abducted and forced to work in these mines.

Alternatives

Electronics: When you need to replace your electronics, buy used. If you need to buy new, consult the Enough Project’s electronics rankings, which are based on the companies’ use of conflict minerals. Its latest rankings named Intel and HP as industry leaders.

Jewelry: When buying gold jewelry, choose secondhand, vintage, or recycled pieces, or look for conflict-free gold. Additionally, you may be able to find Fair Trade gold in some countries.

The Responsible Jewellery Council certifies gold and platinum-group minerals (platinum, palladium, and rhodium) as being conflict free and responsibly sourced throughout the supply chain.

You can also consult the “Jewelry” category of Green America’s National Green Pages® to find green and fair trade jewelry companies that offer non-gold jewelry or use recycled or conflict-free gold.

Take Action

The Enough Project’s Raise Hope for Congo Campaign shares tools to push your school, municipality, or favorite brands to go conflict-free.

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