Stop the 'Blood Coltan' Violence in the Congo!

Coltan is a mineral found in the Democratic Republic of Congo and is exploited for the tantalum it produces. This tantalum is used in many consumer electronics, including YOUR mobile phone!

The price of coltan has sky-rocketed due to the high demand for electronics in Western culture. This has led to many people wanting to extract it and ultimately sell it, at the highest price...a human life.

The mining of coltan in the DRC has led to militias from neighbouring countries to illegally invade the coltan-rich national parks of Congo. These groups of soldiers then do anything to get their hands on the mineral. This has lead to assassinations, child slavery, stealing, rapes (up to 49 rapes per hour in some areas!), and the intentional spread of HIV/AIDS.

The mining of coltan has also led to vast areas of forest to be cleared. Eliminating the habitat and food source of the local Mountain Gorillas. This has led to the population of gorillas to fall by 90 percent . Gorillas are even being killed by the militants in order to be sold as 'bushmeat' to the captive miners and their armies.

If we act together, we can put pressure on mobile phone companies to source their coltan from other countries, in order to stop them from fuelling the violent civil war of the Congo and neighbouring countries.

Dear Sir or Madame,

 We the undersigned are writing to you motivated by a strong concern about the illegal and violent activities occurring in some parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Specifically in the north-eastern regions, which are rich in columbite-tantalite, or coltan. This mineral is exploited in order to produce tantalum, and as you may already know, tantalum is used in most electronic devices, possibly including the mobile phones that you produce.

You may already be aware that the mining of coltan in the DRC is having a detrimental effect on the country. It is the source of environmental and social concerns.


A report from the United Nations Security Council[1] has outlined the issues surrounding the extraction of coltan by rebel forces from countries bordering the DRC, and condemned these illegal activities. This has lead to humanitarian issues including assassination of legitimate local miners, forced child labour, rapes (which are said to reach 49 per hour in some regions), and the deliberate spread of HIV/AIDS.


Environmental concerns come as there is significant evidence that the wild Mountain Gorilla population has dropped significantly (around 90%) in the national parks of the DRC. This is due to the militia forces clearing out vast areas of vegetation in order to create easier access to mines, eliminating the habitat and food source of these creatures. The mining of coltan in the DRC is also having a direct effect on the gorilla population as they are being killed and sold as bushmeat to feed the miners and the foreign armies invading the area. 


The aim of this letter is to enlighten you to the problems and effects that the production of mobile phones could be having on the quality of life of those living in the Democratic Republic of Congo, including our animal friends. The impact the mining of coltan has had, and will continue to have if nothing is done, truly shocks me, as I hope it does you.

As the CEO of a major producer of mobile phones, you are burdened with a great amount of responsibility. However, I believe you have the power to make a significant change and have a positive influence on the world we all share.

As the Democratic Republic of Congo accounts for about 10-13% of global coltan production (excluding the coltan mined in coltan but smuggled into neighbouring countries such as Rwanda) , it seems conceivable that you should be able to source your coltan from other countries such as Australia, Brazil, and Canada, who account for 12.1%, 26.9%, and 3.7% of global coltan production respectively, and would also have monumentally smaller human and environmental cost.

I believe, with the help of you and other major phone manufacturing companies, we could change the lives of the people living in the Congo for the better. We could also ensure a safer, more environmentally friendly future for both the animals and the people of Congo. A few ways of which I think you could contribute to this massively important change are;

-      Investigate further where your tantalum/coltan is sourced.

-      Reduce or completely eliminate the use of tantalum/coltan originating from the Democratic Republic of Congo and countries that border the DRC on the east.

-      Implement stricter restrictions on the sources of your tantalum/coltan.

-      Ensure that all the materials used in the production of your mobile phones are sustainably extracted, with no humanitarian consequences.

-      Publish an open letter outlining your plans to improve the sustainability and environmental practices within the production of mobile phones.

Not only could these adjustments to production of your mobile phones be beneficial for the habitants of the Congo, but it could also enable people to realize the importance of knowing where their products are sourced from, and so, in turn, make a better world.

Yours respectfully,

 We the undersigned

[1] United Nations Security Council 4317th & 4318th Meetings (AM and PM)
Press Release SC/7057

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