Your phone’s ringing, or is it your consciousness?

It’s not as if I’m a filmcritic, but I have to address this new documentary called ‘Blood in the Mobile’. It is one of those must see IDFA 2010 documentaries directed by Danish filmmaker Frank Piasecki Poulsen.

In mobile electronics, minerals like tin, tantalum and tungsten are used for their heat-resistant characteristics. Today’s appetite for smartphones, playstations, laptops and so on, feeds on the extraction of these minerals. The DR Congo is blessed with great reserves of amongst others tin. However, to the country and its citizens it’s more a curse than a blessing. The minerals are extracted by Congolese sometimes litterally at gunpoint of their superiors; being either rebels, soldiers, or some kind of shady business. Arms are widely available in exchange for the minerals, extending the duration of the conflict in the DR Congo. That is why people nowadays refer to them as ‘conflict minerals’.

Filmmaker Frank Piasecki Poulsen goes on a quest in eastern DR Congo to show the conditions under which Congolese extract the tin. It took my breath away when Frank and his cameraman descended one of the holes in the notorious Bisie mine. It was dark, narrow, and crowded with shouting miners. I couldn’t stay in there for a minute, the miners sometimes stay underground for over a week.

Electronics manufacturers like NOKIA say they can’t tell for sure whether their products consist of conflict minerals. To fully comprehend and publish your supply chain, is to give way to your competitors, so the company says in the documentary. Thank those who do think transparency in the supply chain of electronics is possible and very much desirable! Thank you Fairphone!

For more in-dept information about the militarised mining in the eastern Congo, read my Master thesis or see this 2009 Global Witness Report.

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