Conflict resources are natural resources extracted in a conflict zone and sold to perpetuate the fighting. There is both statistical and anecdotal evidence that belligerent accessibility to precious commodities can prolong conflicts (a "resource curse"). The most prominent contemporary example has been the eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where various armies, rebel groups, and outside actors have profited from mining while contributing to violence and exploitation during wars in the region.
The four most commonly mined conflict minerals (known as 3TGs, from their initials) are cassiterite (for tin), wolframite (for tungsten), coltan (for tantalum), and gold ore, which are extracted from the eastern Congo, and passed through a variety of intermediaries before being purchased. These minerals are essential in the manufacture of a variety of devices, including consumer electronics such as mobile phones, laptops, and MP3 players.
The extraction and sale of blood diamonds, also known as "conflict diamonds", is a better-known phenomenon which occurs under virtually identical conditions. Even petroleum can be a conflict resource; ISIS used oil revenue to finance its military and terrorist activities.
There have been international efforts to reduce trade in conflict resources, which try to reduce incentives to extract and fight over them. For example, in the United States, the 2010 Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act required manufacturers to audit their supply chains and report use of conflict minerals. In 2015 a US federal appeals court struck down some aspects of the reporting requirements as a violation of corporations’ freedom of speech, but left others in place.
The concept of 'conflict resource', or 'conflict commodity' emerged in the late 1990s, initially in relation to the 'conflict diamonds' that were financing rebellions in Angola and Sierra Leone. (The media often called these 'blood diamonds'.) Then 'conflict timber' financed hostilities in Cambodia and Liberia.
The concept was first officially discussed by the UN General Assembly in the context of 'conflict diamonds': The UN Security Council has since referred to conflict resources in several resolutions.
Global Witness has called for an international standardized definition to facilitate a more systematic application of UN resolutions, the prevention of complicity in abuses during hostilities by commercial entities exploiting or trading in conflict resources, and the prosecution of war profiteers suspected of supporting or abetting war criminals."
...natural resources whose systematic exploitation and trade in a context of conflict contribute to, benefit from or result in the commission of serious violations of human rights, violations of international humanitarian law or violations amounting to crimes under international law.— Global Witness, proposed Definition of conflict resources
Since 1996 the Bonn International Center for Conversion has tracked resource governance and conflict intensity by country. Aside from fossil fuels, metals, diamonds, and timber it tracks the governance of other primary goods that might fund conflicts, including: poppy seeds and talc (Afghanistan), rubber (Côte d'Ivoire), cotton (Zambia), and cocoa (Indonesia).
The four most prominent conflict minerals, for example codified in the U.S. Conflict Minerals Law, are:
These are sometimes referred to as "the 3T's and gold", 3TG, or even simply the "3T's". Under the US Conflict Minerals Law, additional minerals may be added to this list in the future.
As of 2010, the conflict resource fueling the world's deadliest war is gold in the Congo. Gold bars are less traceable than diamonds, and gold is abundant in the Kivu conflict region. In any case, no jewellery industry standard exists for verifying gold origination, as it does for diamonds (though jeweler's total outlay on gold is five times that on diamonds). Other conflict minerals being illicitly exported from the Congo include cobalt, tungsten, cassiterite, and coltan (which provides the tantalum for mobile phones, and is also said to be directly sustaining the conflict).
Armed conflict and mineral resource looting by the Congolese National Army and various armed rebel groups, including the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) and the National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP), a proxy Rwandan militia group, has occurred throughout the late 20th century and the early 21st century. Additionally, the looting of the Congo's natural resources is not limited to domestic actors. During the Congo Wars (First Congo War (1996–1997) and Second Congo War (1998–2003)), Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi particularly profited from the Congo's resources. These governments continued to smuggle resources out of the Congo to this day.
The profits from the sale of these minerals have financed fighting in the Second Congo War and ongoing follow-on conflicts. Control of lucrative mines has also itself become a military objective.
Mines, in eastern Congo, are often located far from populated areas in remote and dangerous regions. A recent study by International Peace Information Service (IPIS) indicates that armed groups are present at more than 50% of mining sites. At many sites, armed groups illegally tax, extort, and coerce civilians to work. Miners, including children, work up to 48-hour shifts amidst mudslides and tunnel collapses that kill many. The groups are often affiliated with rebel groups, or with the Congolese National Army, but both use rape and violence to control the local population.
In April 2009, Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) introduced the Congo Conflict Minerals Act of 2009 (S. 891) to require electronics companies to verify and disclose their sources of cassiterite, wolframite, and tantalum. This legislation died in committee. However, Brownback added similar language as Section 1502 of the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which passed Congress and was signed into law by President Barack Obama on July 21, 2010.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) draft regulations to implement the Conflict Mineral Law, published in the Federal Register of December 23, 2010. would have required U.S. and certain foreign companies to report and make public their use of so-called "conflict minerals" from the Democratic Republic of the Congo or adjoining countries in their products. Comments on this proposal were extended until March 2, 2011. The comments on the proposal were reviewable by the public.
One report on the proposal stated the following statistics for the submitted comments:
That report also contained what it calls a "preview of the final SEC regulations" synthesized from their detailed research and analysis of a large body of documents, reports and other information on the law, proposed regulation and the current budget/political setting facing the SEC in the current administration.
The final rule went into effect 13 November 2012.
The SEC rule did not go unnoticed by the international community, including entities seeking to undermine traceability efforts. A report published by a metals trading publication illustrated one DRC ore/mineral flow method that has apparently been devised to thwart detection.
On July 15, 2011, the US State Department issued a statement on the subject. Section 1502(c) of the Law mandates that the State Department work in conjunction with SEC on certain elements of conflict minerals policy development and support.
On October 23, 2012 U.S. State Dept Officials asserted that ultimately, it falls on the U.S. State Dept. to determine when this rule would no longer apply.
In April 2014, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit struck down several parts of the SEC Rules as unconstitutional.
US Conflict Minerals Law contains two requirements that are closely connected:
Even companies not directly regulated by the SEC will be impacted by the audit requirements because they will be pushed down through entire supply chains, including privately held and foreign-owned companies.
SEC estimated that 1,199 "issuers" (i.e., companies subject to filing other SEC reports) will be required to submit full conflict mineral reports. This estimate was developed by finding the amount of tantalum produced by the DRC in comparison to global production (15% – 20%). The Commission selected the higher figure of 20% and multiplied that by 6,000 (the total number of "issuers" SEC will be required to do initial product/process evaluations). This estimate does not account for the companies who supply materials to the "issuers" (but are not themselves SEC-regulated) but who will almost certainly be required to conduct conflict minerals audits to meet the demands of those customers. Other estimates indicate that the total number of US companies likely impacted may exceed 12,000.
A study of the potential impact of the regulation in early 2011 by the IPC – Association Connecting Electronic Industries trade association. was submitted with the association's comments to the SEC. The study states that the IPC survey respondents had a median of 163 direct suppliers. Applying that number to the SEC's estimated number of impacted issuers results in the possibility of over 195,000 businesses that could be subject to some level of supply chain traceability effort.
Under the law, companies have to submit an annual conflict minerals report to the SEC if:
A company would be deemed to contract an item to be manufactured if it:
This language implied that some retailers who are not manufacturers might be subject to the audit and disclosure requirements.
"Contracting to manufacture" a product requires some actual influence over the manufacturing of process that product, a determination based on facts and circumstances. A company is not to be deemed to have influence over the manufacturing process if it merely:
The proposed regulations attempted to clarify that tools used in assembly and manufacturing will not trigger the law. The intent was to cover minerals/metals in the final product only. Nothing specifically addresses intermediate chemical processes that use chemicals that contain conflict minerals. Additionally, neither the law nor the proposed regulation established a de minimis quantity or other form of materiality threshold that would preclude the applicability of the auditing/reporting requirements.
The law mandates the use of an "independent private sector auditor" to conduct the audits. SEC has proposed two different standards for the audits: the "reasonable inquiry" and the "due diligence". Should the final rule include this structure, the reasonable inquiry would be the first step to determine if the company can on its own, using reasonable efforts and trustworthy information, make a reliable determination as to the source/origin of its tin, tantalum, tungsten and/or gold. Where companies are unable to make such a determination for any reason, they would then be required to take the next step of the "due diligence", which is the independent private sector audit.
The statute specified that the audits be "conducted in accordance with standards established by the Comptroller General of the United States, in accordance with rules promulgated by the Commission." This means that the same auditing standards that apply to other SEC auditing requirements will apply to conflict minerals audits  Because of this language, SEC will have little discretion to allow companies to issue self-generated statements or certifications to satisfy the law.
Third party audits for conflict minerals supply chain traceability began in summer 2010 under the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC), a US-based electronics manufacturing trade association. Under this program, EICC selected three audit firms to conduct the actual audits, with two of the three participating in the pilot audits in 2010. After concluding the pilot, one of the two firms involved in 2010 withdrew from the program specifically in response to the SEC's proposal and to reduce potential legal risks to the audited entities.
Neither the law nor the proposed regulations provide guidance on what will be considered an acceptable audit scope or process, preferring to allow companies the flexibility meeting the requirement in a manner that is responsive to their own individual business and supply chain. At the same time, the law contains a provision that preserves the government's rights to deem any report, audit or other due diligence processes as being unreliable, and in such cases, the report shall not satisfy the requirements of the regulations, further emphasizing the need for such audits to conform to established SEC auditing standards. Comments on the proposed regulation pointed out that, should SEC not specify an applicable audit standard, it cannot also be silent or ambiguous on the auditor standards as well, or the Commission will violate the plain language of the Law mandating "standards established by the Comptroller General of the United States". It is generally expected that SEC will provide specificity on both the audit standard and the auditor standard. SEC's proposal attempted to clarify its position on auditor requirements.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) published its Guidance on conflict minerals supply chain traceability. This guidance is gaining much momentum as "the" standard within US policy. However, a recent critical analysis of the standard in comparison to existing US auditing standards under SEC highlighted a number of significant inconsistencies and conflict with relevant US standards. Companies subject to the US law who implement the OECD Guidance without regard for the SEC auditing standards may face legal compliance risks.
Companies subject to the SEC reporting requirement would be required to disclose whether the minerals used in their products originated in the DRC or adjoining countries (as defined above). The law mandates that this reporting be submitted/made available annually. Many comments to the proposed regulation asked SEC to clarify whether the report must be "furnished"—meaning it is made available to SEC but not directly incorporated within the company's formal financial report—or "submitted"—meaning the report is directly incorporated into the financial report. At first glance, this may appear to be a minor point; however, this difference is very important in determining the audit/auditor standards and related liabilities.
If it is determined that none of the minerals originated in the DRC or adjoining countries, the report must include a statement to that effect and provide an explanation of the country of origin analysis that was used to arrive at the ultimate conclusion. On the other hand, if conflict minerals originating in the DRC or adjoining countries were used (or if it is not possible to determine the country of origin of the conflict minerals used), companies would be required to state as such in the annual report. In either case, companies would also be required to make this information public by posting their annual conflict minerals report on their websites, and providing the SEC with the internet addresses where the reports may be found. Further, the proposed regulations would require companies to maintain records relating to the country of origin of conflict minerals used in their products.
Media outlets have reported that many companies required to file Specialized Disclosure Reports to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and any necessary conflict minerals reports for 2013 under the SEC’s conflict minerals rule are struggling to meet the June 2, 2014 report filing deadline. Many impacted companies were hoping for clarification regarding filing requirements, from the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit from a lawsuit filed by the National Association of Manufacturers. The appellate court’s ruling left the necessary conflict minerals reporting requirements largely intact and it has been suggested that impacted companies should review the SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance’s response to the court’s ruling which provides guidance regarding the effect of the appellate court’s ruling.
On August 18, 2015 the divided D.C. Circuit Court again held the SEC's conflict materials rule violates the First Amendment. Senior Circuit Judge A. Raymond Randolph, joined by Senior Circuit Judge David B. Sentelle, weighed if the required disclosures were effective and uncontroversial. Citing news reports and a Congressional hearing, the court decided the policy was ineffective. The court next found the required label was controversial because it "is a metaphor that conveys moral responsibility for the Congo war." As such, the court struck down the conflict materials rule’s disclosure requirements as a violation of corporations’ freedom of speech. Circuit Judge Sri Srinivasan dissented, writing that the required disclosures were not controversial because they were truthful.
The law has been criticised for not addressing the root causes of the conflict, leaving to the Congolese government the responsibility for providing an environment in which companies can practice due diligence and legitimately purchase the minerals they need, when the reality is that mechanisms for transparency do not exist. The effect has been to halt legitimate mining ventures that provided livelihoods for people, reducing the Congo's legal exports of tantalum by 90%.
The European Parliament passed legislation in 2015; negotiations are currently underway among member states as to specific wording details.
On 16 June 2016 the European Parliament confirmed that "mandatory due diligence" would be required for "all but the smallest EU firms importing tin, tungsten, tantalum, gold and their ores".
On May 17, 2017 the EU passed Regulation (EU) 2017/821 of the Parliament and of the Council on the supply chain due diligence obligations for importers of tin, tantalum, tungsten, their ores, and gold from conflict-affected and high risk areas. The regulation will take effect in January 2021, and will directly apply to companies that import 3TG metals into the EU, no matter where they originate.
On August 10, 2018 The European Commission published their non-binding guidelines for the identification of conflict-affected and high-risk areas and other supply chain risks under Regulation (EU) 2017/821 of the European Parliament and of the Council.
Increases in business process outsourcing to globally dispersed production facilities means that social problems and human rights violations are no longer only an organization matter, but also often occur in companies’ supply chains, and challenge for supply chain managers. Besides the harm conflict minerals do where they are produced, human rights violations also raise an enormous risk to corporate reputations. Consumers, mass media and employees expect companies to behave responsibly and have become intolerant of those who don't.
Consequently, firms that are located downstream in the supply chain and that are more visible to stakeholders are particularly threatened by social supply chain problems. The recent debate concerning conflict minerals illustrates the importance of social and human rights issues in supply chain management practice as well as the emerging need to react to social conflicts. Conflict minerals are processed in many different components throughout various industries and hence have a high overall impact on business.
Initiatives like the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act or the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas demand that supply chain managers verify purchased goods as ‘‘conflict-free’’ or implement measures to better manage any inability to do so.
Minerals mined in Eastern Congo pass through the hands of numerous middlemen as they are shipped out of Congo, through neighboring countries such as Rwanda or Burundi, to East Asian processing plants. Because of this, the US Conflict Minerals Law applies to materials originating (or claimed to originate) from the DRC as well as the nine adjoining countries: Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Congo Republic, Rwanda, South Sudan, Zimbabwe, Uganda, and Zambia.
Firms have begun to apply governance mechanisms to avoid adverse effects of conflict mineral sourcing. However, the mere transfer of responsibilities upstream in the supply chain apparently will not stop the trade with conflict minerals, notably due to two reasons:
In the context of mineral supply chains, due diligence represents a holistic concept that aims at providing a chain of custody tracking from mine to export at country level, regional tracking of mineral flows through the creation of a database on their purchases, independent audits on all actors in the supply chain, and a monitoring of the whole mineral chain by a mineral chain auditor. In this sense, due diligence transcends conventional risk management approaches that usually focus on the prevention of direct impacts on the core business activities of companies. Moreover, due diligence focuses on a maximum of transparency as an end itself while risk management is always directed towards the end of averting direct damages. However, besides the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and the OECD Guidance, there is still a gap in due diligence practices as international norms are just emerging. Studies found that the motivation for supply chain due diligence as well as expected outcomes of these processes vary among firms. Furthermore, different barriers, drivers, and implementation patterns of supply chain due diligence have been identified in scholarly research.
A number of organizations and celebrities working to find solutions and raise awareness of conflict minerals. These include:
Moreover, FairPhone Foundation raises awareness of conflict minerals in the mobile industry and is a company which tries to produce a smart phone with 'fair' conditions along the supply chain. Various industry and trade associations are also monitoring developments in conflict minerals laws and traceability frameworks. Some of these represent electronics, retailers, jewelry, mining, electronics components, and general manufacturing sectors. One organization – ITRI (a UK-based international non-profit organization representing the tin industry and sponsored/supported by its members, principally miners and smelters.) had spearheaded efforts for the development and implementation of a "bag and tag" scheme at the mine as a key element of credible traceability. The program and related efforts were initially not likely to extend beyond the pilot phase due to a variety of implementation and funding problems that occurred. In the end however, the device did enter the market.
In late March 2011, the UK government launched an informational section on its Foreign & Commonwealth Office website dedicated to conflict minerals. This information resource is intended to assist British companies in understanding the issues and, specifically, the US requirements.
On Jan 6th 2014, the semiconductor giant Intel announced that it would distance itself from conflict minerals. As a result, all Intel microprocessors henceforth will be conflict-free.
Manufacturers and supply chain partners needing to comply with the ever-increasing reporting regulations have a few commercial options available.
A major research report from November 2012 by the Southern Africa Resource Watch revealed that gold miners in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo were being exploited by corrupt government officials, bureaucrats and security personnel, who all demand illegal tax, fees and levies from the miners without delivering any services in return. Despite the alleged gold rush in regions of the country, none of the population and workforce is benefiting from this highly lucrative industry.
Peter Hain: without blood diamonds, the war in Sierra Leone could not be financed... In the face of enormous suffering caused by the diamond-fuelled wars in Sierra Leone, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo, we have a duty to ensure that we are doing as much as we can
the Responsible Jewellery Council says that it is developing a system for the industry that will, one day, trace gold to its source.The 2010-04-19 Responsible Jewellery Council discussion paper Archived 2011-07-15 at the Wayback Machine proposes a Chain-of-custody system to enable jewellery makers and dealers to trace gold back to its original mine as a "Means to avoid ‘conflict’ resources", but warns "The gold market is much larger and more geographically diversified than diamonds. The gold jewellery market is five times larger than diamonds at first cost".
'Sexual attacks peak when there's fighting,' said Shabunda-based human rights activist Papy Bwalinga Kashama. 'The reason the military and militia are fighting is to control the mines,'… it is not hard to find mines in the hands of men with guns
Blood diamonds (also called conflict diamonds, war diamonds, hot diamonds, or red diamonds) is a term used for a diamond mined in a war zone and sold to finance an insurgency, an invading army's war efforts, or a warlord's activity. The term is used to highlight the negative consequences of the diamond trade in certain areas, or to label an individual diamond as having come from such an area. Diamonds mined during the recent civil wars in Angola, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, and Guinea Bissau have been given the label. The term conflict resource refers to analogous situations involving other natural resources.Cabinda War
The Cabinda War is an ongoing separatist insurgency, waged by the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC) against the government of Angola. FLEC aims at the restoration of the self-proclaimed Republic of Cabinda, located within the borders of the Cabinda province of Angola.Canadian mining in Latin America and the Caribbean
Canadian mining in Latin America and the Caribbean began in the 20th century. Latin America and the Caribbean's vast resources give the region great geopolitical importance, attracting foreign interest for centuries. From the colonial race of European empires, to the multinationals of today's neoliberal capitalist world, this region continues to draw interest. Canada's involvement in Latin America increased dramatically since 1989 with several landmark negotiations and agreements. By 2009, the Canadian larger-company mineral exploration market in this region was valued at US$1.7 billion. Currently, Latin America and the Caribbean are dominated by Canadian companies falling from a 49% to 32% held control over the larger-company mineral exploration market after the global recession of 2008. The Canadian share of the market is roughly US$59 million more than the amount domestic companies planned to spend in this region. Both Mexico and Chile have the most intense focus of Canadian mining companies; however, their interest and involvement in other Latin American countries is prevalent.Christophe Lutundula
Christophe Lutundula Apala is a member of the National Assembly of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Deputy President of the Assembly. On March 25, 2009 he became President ad interim of the Assembly following the resignation of Vital Kamerhe. He was succeeded by Évariste Boshab on April 18, 2009.Critical mineral raw materials
Since 2011, the European Commission assesses a 3-year list of Critical Raw Materials (CRMs) for the EU economy within its Raw Materials Initiative. To date, 14 CRMs were identified in 2011, 20 in 2014 and 27 in 2017.
These materials are mainly used in energy transition and digital technologies.Economy of Sierra Leone
The economy of Sierra Leone is that of a least developed country with a GDP of approximately 1.9 billion USD in 2009. Since the end of the civil war in 2002 the economy is gradually recovering with a GDP growth rate between 4 and 7%. In 2008 its GDP in PPP ranked between 147th (World Bank) and 153rd (CIA) largest in the world.Sierra Leone's economic development has always been hampered by an overdependence on mineral exploitation. Successive governments and the population as a whole have always believed that "diamonds and gold" are sufficient generators of foreign currency earnings and lure for investment.
As a result, large scale agriculture of commodity products, industrial development and sustainable investments have been neglected by governments. The economy could thus be described as one which is "exploitative" - a rentier state - and based upon the extraction of unsustainable resources or non-reusable assets.
Two-thirds of the population of Sierra Leone are directly involved in subsistence agriculture. Agriculture accounted for 58 percent national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2007.Harkin–Engel Protocol
The Harkin–Engel Protocol, sometimes referred to as the Cocoa Protocol, is an international agreement aimed at ending the worst forms of child labor (according to the International Labour Organization's Convention 182) and forced labor (according to ILO Convention 29) in the production of cocoa, the main ingredient in chocolate. The protocol was negotiated by U.S. Senator Tom Harkin and U.S. Representative Eliot Engel in response to a documentary and multiple articles in 2000 and 2001 reporting widespread child slavery and child trafficking in the production of cocoa. The protocol was signed in September 2001. Joint Statements in 2001, 2005 and 2008 and a Joint Declaration in 2010 extended the commitment to address the problem.
The industry's pledge to reduce child labor in Ivory Coast and Ghana by 70%, as per the Protocol, had not been met as of late 2015; the deadline was again extended, to 2020.Kimberley Process Certification Scheme
The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) is the process established in 2003 to prevent "conflict diamonds" from entering the mainstream rough diamond market by United Nations General Assembly Resolution 55/56 following recommendations in the Fowler Report. The process was set up "to ensure that diamond purchases were not financing violence by rebel movements and their allies seeking to undermine legitimate governments."The effectiveness of the process has been brought into question by organizations such as Global Witness (pulled out of the scheme on 5 December 2011) and IMPACT (pulled out on 14 December 2017), claiming it has failed in its purpose and does not provide markets with assurance that the diamonds are not conflict diamonds.List of pastoral visits of Pope Francis
This is a list of pastoral visits of Pope Francis. Pope Francis's visit to the Philippines in January 2015 included the largest papal event in history with around 6–7 million attendees in his final mass at Manila, surpassing the then-largest papal event at World Youth Day 1995 in the same venue 20 years earlier.Mining
Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth, usually from an ore body, lode, vein, seam, reef or placer deposit. These deposits form a mineralized package that is of economic interest to the miner.
Ores recovered by mining include metals, coal, oil shale, gemstones, limestone, chalk, dimension stone, rock salt, potash, gravel, and clay. Mining is required to obtain any material that cannot be grown through agricultural processes, or feasibly created artificially in a laboratory or factory. Mining in a wider sense includes extraction of any non-renewable resource such as petroleum, natural gas, or even water.
Mining of stones and metal has been a human activity since pre-historic times. Modern mining processes involve prospecting for ore bodies, analysis of the profit potential of a proposed mine, extraction of the desired materials, and final reclamation of the land after the mine is closed. De Re Metallica, Georgius Agricola, 1550, Book I, Para. 1Mining operations usually create a negative environmental impact, both during the mining activity and after the mine has closed. Hence, most of the world's nations have passed regulations to decrease the impact. Work safety has long been a concern as well, and modern practices have significantly improved safety in mines.
Levels of metals recycling are generally low. Unless future end-of-life recycling rates are stepped up, some rare metals may become unavailable for use in a variety of consumer products. Due to the low recycling rates, some landfills now contain higher concentrations of metal than mines themselves.Raw material
A raw material, also known as a feedstock, unprocessed material, or primary commodity, is a basic material that is used to produce goods, finished products, energy, or intermediate materials which are feedstock for future finished products. As feedstock, the term connotes these materials are bottleneck assets and are highly important with regard to producing other products. An example of this is crude oil, which is a raw material and a feedstock used in the production of industrial chemicals, fuels, plastics, and pharmaceutical goods; lumber is a raw material used to produce a variety of products including all types of furniture. The term "raw material" denotes materials in minimally processed or unprocessed in states; e.g., raw latex, crude oil, cotton, coal, raw biomass, iron ore, air, logs, or water i.e. "any product of agriculture, forestry, fishing and any other mineral that is in its natural form or which has undergone the transformation required to prepare it for internationally marketing in substantial volumes."Resource curse
The resource curse, also known as the paradox of plenty, refers to the paradox that countries with an abundance of natural resources (such as fossil fuels and certain minerals), tend to have less economic growth, less democracy, and worse development outcomes than countries with fewer natural resources. There are many theories and much academic debate about the reasons for, and exceptions to, these adverse outcomes. Most experts believe the resource curse is not universal or inevitable, but affects certain types of countries or regions under certain conditions.Tantalum
Tantalum is a chemical element with the symbol Ta and atomic number 73. Previously known as tantalium, its name comes from Tantalus, a villain from Greek mythology. Tantalum is a rare, hard, blue-gray, lustrous transition metal that is highly corrosion-resistant. It is part of the refractory metals group, which are widely used as minor components in alloys. The chemical inertness of tantalum makes it a valuable substance for laboratory equipment and a substitute for platinum. Its main use today is in tantalum capacitors in electronic equipment such as mobile phones, DVD players, video game systems and computers.
Tantalum, always together with the chemically similar niobium, occurs in the mineral groups tantalite, columbite and coltan (a mix of columbite and tantalite, though not recognised as a separate mineral species). Tantalum is considered a technology-critical element.