Skip to content
Subscriber Only

Keeping Conflict Minerals Out of Your Cell Phone

Tech companies scramble to prove their raw materials are conflict-free
Tantalum ore
Tantalum orePhotograph by Getty Images

Muddy trails extending for hundreds of miles into the subtropical wilderness of the Democratic Republic of the Congo end at shallow, exposed mines full of one of the most valuable mineral deposits on earth: tantalum ore. Crack open your cell phone and you’d find a refined version of it in the thumbnail-size part that helps power the device. In the DRC’s Katanga province, the bush trails also lead to an interesting experiment in coping with government regulation.

A tale of two supply chains (click to enlarge)