Sourcing the rare materials essential for many electronic devices is fuelling human rights abuses in central Africa – and supply chains of these ‘conflict minerals’ are under ever-greater scrutiny
Together with gold, the three Ts – tungsten, tin and tantalum – provide many of the most important materials for modern life. Used in aircraft, cars, medical scanners and smartphones, they are the digital age’s vital elements.
The burgeoning demand for them is fuelling the armed conflict endemic throughout central Africa, which is rich in these minerals. “The facts are well established,” says Sophia Pickles of Global Witness, the international NGO set up to combat the links between resource exploitation, corruption, conflict and human rights. “The link between these resources and human rights abuses is clear.”