Christmas is right around the corner and chances are you have either asked for a new high tech device, or have bought one for someone on your list. I’ve talked a bit on this blog about where devices like BlackBerry’s Xboxes and iPhones are made, but I haven’t gotten into where the materials come from.
These high tech devices need expensive minerals, minerals that are hard to find, things like tantalum, tungsten and gold. One part of the world that supplies these minerals is the Democratic Republic of Congo. Also know as the rape capital of the world, and the centre of the biggest, bloodiest war since WWII. This is where the term “blood diamond” comes from, waring factions would sell diamonds to fund their war. But in the raw material trade, there isn’t as big of a stigma, often becuase it’s hard to tell where manufacturers get their supplies from.
In steps the Enough Project a grass roots organization who is trying to persuade tech companies to rid their products of conflict minerals. They’ve recently released a progress report of sorts to see which companies have actively made an effort to reduce minerals from the Congo in their products.
Of special note is that Nintendo is at the very bottom of the list. According to Kotaku, Nintendo washes their hands of this by saying they never purchase raw materials and leave up to their suppliers to comply with international ethical codes.
It does make you wonder, do you want your high tech devices to contain conflict materials? Of course not, but how do you know, and should high tech companies be responsible for the business practices of their suppliers? Even the Enough Project knows there’s no easy answer, but that’s why they’re trying to get people to start thinking about where our favourite devices come from.