A Photographer’s Look at ‘Conflict Minerals’ that Power Our Smartphones

Photographer Marcus Bleasdale has been documenting the horrific violence, the victimization of child soldiers, the empowerment of warlords and the enslavement of workers in the Democratic Republic of Congo for more than a decade. And while stories of “blood diamonds” and “conflict diamonds” have long been known, his latest photos (which will appear in an upcoming issue of National Geographic magazine), show how “conflict minerals” used in electronic consumer devices help to fuel the on-going conflict. Bleasdale told Mashable, “Anyone in today’s world is using a significant amount of electronics products. All of these consumable products have, at some time, had conflict minerals from Congo in them. We as consumers should be appalled by that.”

Bleasdale said that instead of foregoing the use of devices like smartphones, the focus should be on influencing tech companies to ensure their products do not contain conflict minerals. Following a piece of Congressional legislation that passed in 2010, companies must disclose whether minerals they use in their devices come from mines that have ties to warlords. The Enough Project produces an annual report, showing which companies are helping to stop the use of conflict minerals for Congo, and how consumers can support change. Bleasdale said, “We have a long way to go, but I do see that there’s an opportunity for change” …

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