Oluwole Ojewale, Institute for Security Studies
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is rich in natural resources – its untapped deposits of minerals are estimated to be worth US$24 trillion. Gold, diamonds, cobalt and zinc are among them.
Another strategic mineral mined in the DRC is coltan – a name derived from “columbite-tantalite”. In 2021, the DRC’s coltan production amounted to an estimated 700 tonnes, making the Central African country the world’s largest coltan producer by far.
Coltan is indispensable to the manufacture of all modern technological devices. The mineral is refined to tantalum powder, which is used to make heat-resistant capacitors in laptops, cellphones, and other high-end electronic devices.
The global coltan market was valued at US$1,504.81 million in 2019. It is expected to reach US$1,933.92 million by the end of 2026, growing at a rate of 5.58% a year between 2021 and 2026. But activists, journalists and scholars have found a relationship between coltan exploitation and large-scale environmental degradation, human rights abuses, violence and death.
For the rest of this column: https://theconversation.com/amp/what-coltan-mining-in-the-drc-costs-people-and-the-environment-183159