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Dominican Sisters of Houston
Human Trafficking and the Four Cs: Coltan and cell phones
January 20, 2012

This is the fourth in a series of articles addressing the Four Cs and their relationship to human trafficking: Coltan and cell phones-

We could not operate our cell phones and many other electronic gadgets without Coltan
There are many parts that go into these gadgets that we come to depend on to do our work, use for entertainment, etc. Everything--from the SIM card holding all of your contacts to the buttons or touch screen-is made somewhere and ten assembled to make the little thing that you use to text, surf the internet, play games and yes make phone calls. Sadly some of those pieces are made with forced labor. From the pieces of the circuits made with the mineral called "Coltan" which is mined by children and families in the war-torn Democratic Republic of the Congo to the factories in east Asia with workers in slave like conditions right to your pocket.

Many small scale mines are narrow and child labor it used to dig and mine in these holes. The children are required to wash and sift the minerals. They are forced to work in the most dangerous conditions imaginable in eastern Congo mines. If they don't work, they'll starve. Millions have already died because of the on-going conflict between warring rebel militias and the national army which is fueled by the country vast mineral -wealth and the slaves extracting those mineral are the main victims.

An estimated 2 million child-slaves work from sunrise to sunset to dig Coltan by hand from the soil-and it is traded on the black market for $400 a pound. International interest in Coltan from the Congo is due to the "very low" labor costs for extracting the mineral. While companies benefit from the low costs, communities in the Congo see few benefits from the exports of their natural resources.

How can you help?  Learn about the issue!

To learn more about what you can do to abolish this form of modern day slavery contact the Houston Rescue and Restore Coalition at