Coltan Fact: Conflict Minerals — What You Should Know

Coltan is short for Columbite (tantalite), a black, tar-like mineral found in major quantities
in the Congo. The Congo possesses 80 percent of the world's Coltan. When Coltan is
refined, it becomes a heat-resistant powder that can hold a high electric charge. The
properties of refined Coltan are a vital element in creating devices that store energy or
capacitors, which are used in a vast array of small electronic devices, especially in mobile
phones, laptop computers, pagers, and other electronic devices. Rwanda, Uganda,
Burundi, and their proxy militias are the primary exploiters of Coltan in the Congo.
According to The United Nations Report (2001), this has fuelled the conflict in the
Democratic Republic of Congo. Indeed, more than 5.4 million people have died because of
this conflict. This conflict has recently drawn our attention because of the fact that most
of the phones and gadgets we rely on are made from this valuable mineral. The Coltan
mined by rebels and foreign forces is sold to foreign corporations. Once the Coltan is
processed and converted to capacitors, it is then sold to companies such as Nokia,
Motorola, Compaq, Alcatel, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Lucent, Ericsson, and Sony for use
in a wide assortment of everyday products ranging from cell phones to computer chips
and game consoles.
(Extracted: democratic-republic- of-congo,, 27 June, 2016)

Please explore uploaded links
 mineral-miners- Africa-use- bare-
 minerals
 Ayres, J. C. (2012). The international trade in conflict minerals: coltan. Critical perspectives
on international business, 8, 2: 178 – 193.
Your task is to review this situation in relation to multinational corporations’ use of Coltan in
light of the new understanding of business ethics that you have gained in this unit.
Your assignment could be in the form of Report format.

 Drawing from the analytical framework of phronetic (powerpoint slides) inquiry argued by
Flyvbjerg, I suggest you structure your answer.
 Find as many good journal references as possible to support your arguments.
 Refer to the assessment rubric to make sure your assignment comprehensively meets all
 Word count: 2,500 words

The aim of this case study is to give you an opportunity to demonstrate your ability to apply
theoretical content of the unit to a practical setting. You will be assessed on how well you
can identify the ethical dimensions of a given case, develop and explain your position on the
problem presented and present a reasoned decision. The grading criteria are available on
the Blackboard web site.


The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been in war for over 20 years, a situation in which mineral wealth has played a significant role in the matters of violence and conflict in the Central Africa country. The inhabitants of Eastern Congo rely on mineral exploitation as a major source of livelihood in a region that does not have many other economic activities to support them. The country’s mineral wealth contributes heavily to the continuing violence and insecurity in the country. Control of the mining fields and trading routes have had a key obligation in financing and fueling war parties in Democratic Republic of Congo (Christensen et. al 2007). The population in the mining region has suffered greatly due to the continuing conflict. The suffering has comprised of extortion, child incorporation into war groups, mass displacement of population, and rape. The minerals commonly referred to as blood or conflict minerals are not the main cause of the conflict but just one factor that can be used to offer explanation to the unending conflict.