Minerals in Congo used to make handheld devices fuel deadly conflict

September 20, 2011

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(AP/Anjan Sundaram)
A miner hangs a 50-kg sack of tin ore on a weighing scale in Mayuwano, Congo. Tin is used in the circuit boards of electronics.

MP3 players, smart phones and tablet computers have transformed the way many of us live and work. To make these gadgets, companies like Apple  rely on certain minerals, many of which come from Eastern Congo. High demand has driven up the prices of these resources, and the resulting struggle to control them has turned bloody, leaving hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians dead.

The U.S. Congress is attempting to address the problem. Their solution is tucked into the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, and it requires companies that source minerals from places like Eastern Congo to make their supply chains transparent. The Security and Exchange Commission is currently finalizing the regulations for this provision.

We discuss this legislation with Aaron Hall, a policy analyst with The Enough Project. He tells us how we, as ordinary consumers, can better grasp the issue of conflict minerals.