Electronics: The New Blood Diamond?
BOSTON (CBS) – It was just several years ago consumers were outraged when they first heard about “Blood Diamonds”. These are gems mined in Africa under harsh conditions.
Some of the same concerns are now being aired about how some of the components used to make popular high tech gadgets are obtained.
The Enough Project, a human rights group, shot video tape of children as young as 10 mining minerals in a war torn section of Eastern Congo.
WBZ-TV’s Paula Ebben reports.
With no rules or regulations, it’s dangerous work. Deaths from mine shaft collapses are common.
Minerals such as Tin, Tantalum, and Tungsten are mined from this region of the world. It’s a big business because they’re used in the manufacture of cell phones, lap tops, and computers.
100’s of millions of dollars is believed to end up in the hands of warlords and armed militia groups.
Sadia Hameed of Raise Hope for Congo said, “In order to control the mineral resources, they have been waging campaigns of violence against the surrounding communities, committing atrocities that most of us cannot even imagine.”
Former Congo resident Leontine Lanza knows the high cost being paid in her homeland. “I am a survivor,’ she said, “but many of my own people die for nothing.”
It’s estimated that more than five million people have been killed as a result of these conflicts.
Hameed explained, “You will hear stories of women who’ve been raped repeatedly by multiple armed soldiers in front of their family members. They have watched their husbands and children killed in front of their eyes.”
Here in the United States, the Consumer Electronics Association says that “Mining activities that fuel conflict are unacceptable.”
New Federal regulations will soon require electronics companies to audit and disclose where the metals they use come from. The goal will to be to eliminate those that come from conflicted areas.