A dull black mineral. Used in consumer electronics products such as cell phones, DVD players, computers and games consoles. The main supply is found in the eastern regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country where the war has made more than 3 and half millions of dead these last years. Coltan is very often illegally mined by children and smuggled by militias from neighbouring as Rwanda.
To many, and after a recent UN report, this raises ethical question akin to those of conflict diamonds. Owing to the difficulty of distinguishing legitimate from illegitimate mining operations, several manufacturers have decided to forgo central African coltan altogether, relying on other sources. But do they really do? There is little way to prove the tantalum used in our cell phones and laptops is not from Congo.
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Eric Jan Phelps :D