In the next few weeks, millions of electronics will be yanked off store shelves during the busy holiday shopping season – computers, smart phones, electronic book-readers. Almost every single one of the gadgets Canadians purchase will, in turn, help extend Congo’s misery, because inside the circuitry of those gadgets is coltan.
Coltan has become one of the world’s most sought-after materials because it is used to create tantalum, a key ingredient in electronic circuitry. The global tantalum capacitor market is worth about $2-billion (U.S.) annually. You’ll find them in computers, cell phones, home appliances and myriad other electronic goods.
Join NDP MP Paul Dewar and Samantha Nutt, founder of War Child Canada were here for a discussion on conflict materials and where the responsibility lies to ensure Canadian consumers' gadget lust does not fuel conflict in developing countries. Authors of Saturday's Smartphones: Blood stains at our fingertips Iain Marlow and Omar El Akkad joined the conversation as well. If you missed it, you can view a transcript by clicking on the grey box below.
Ms. Nutt has spent considerable time in the Congo, including the region where coltan is mined, and is a vocal activists on the topic.
Mr. Dewar has just tabled the Trade in Conflict Minerals Act with Liberal Party support. The act would pressure companies to ensure the raw materials they purchase don’t end up putting money in the pockets of warlords. But the proposed law’s future is likely also dependent on Canadian consumers’ willingness to pay a few dollars more for computers that aren’t built using conflict minerals -- something that’s far from certain.