The electronics we use every day could have a sinister side: they could contain slave-mined minerals in the Congo, otherwise known as ‘Conflict Minerals.’
The Second Congo War, also known as the Great War of Africa, caused by these conflict minerals, is not well known in the west. This is especially surprising considering it is the deadliest conflict since World War II. An estimated 5.4 million people died as a result of the war by 2007, mostly from disease and starvation. The conflict still continues in many areas due to competition over access to resources.
Conflict minerals are often mined under brutal conditions by forced labour, debt bondage, and even child slavery in the Congo. Slave-mined minerals are in many of our everyday electronic items: they generate hundreds of millions of dollars, and fuel the world’s deadliest ongoing conflict.
Huge progress is supposedly being made to rid our household electronics of modern slavery: Intel recently announced that all its new microprocessors will be free of conflict minerals, and CEO Brian Kraznich has urged other companies to follow suit.
While Intel and many other electronics companies are making moves to ensure they’re no longer part of the violent cycle of conflict in the Congo, Nintendo – the world’s largest manufacturer of video game consoles – lags behind. We simply don’t know what steps the electronics giant is taking to ensure its products are free of the violence, murder, and modern slavery associated with these minerals, and its conflict minerals policy has been dismissed by experts as a “meaningless piece of paper”.