The eastern provinces of Congo are rich in natural resources, including gold, diamonds, cobalt, copper, tin and a mineral called tantalum. Estimates put the worth of all those resources in the trillions of dollars. But National Geographic writes that "because of never-ending war, [Congo] is one of the poorest and most traumatized nations in the world."
Some of the resources mined in Congo, like tantalum, wolframite and cassiterite, are used in electronic devices like cell phones and computers — Slate writes "if you are reading this on a smartphone right now, then you are probably holding in your palm" minerals taken from Congo. Before they are purchased by international electronics companies, those minerals are passed through a variety of intermediaries.
The Jane Goodall Institute is currently running a campaign to help end the conflict in eastern Congo, including a petition asking Canadian Members of Parliament to pass an NDP private member's bill called the Conflict Minerals Act (Bill C-486), which would require Canadian companies using minerals from Congo to indicate whether armed groups there have profited from the mining and processing of those minerals. Catch Jane on our program on CBC Television Tuesday, October 15 at 7pm.
Hit the gallery above for a brief look at some of the realities of mining, conflict and natural resources in Congo.