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About the Author

Andrea Arzaba
Student / Blogger (Mexico City)

Andrea Arzaba defines herself as a “journalist, peace activist, indigenous cultures lover and an eager world traveller”. Currently, blogger for Global Voices Online and for Adopt A Negotiator Project. Andrea is studying her BA in Communications at Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City. She studied last year at Universidad Complutense in Madrid, Spain.


From Cellphones to Blood and Extinction

Published 07th January 2011 - 1 comments - 12381 views -
"The Democratic Republic of Congo is bleeding. It is estimated that since 1998,  almost five and a half million people have died, and for the last few months the attacks have intensified. It is no coincidence that the country has 80% of the world's coltan".

(Marta Iglesias, taken from the blog

Today I will share with you a story of exploitation, which has not had much diffusion, coltan origins and extraction 

Picture taken from

But...what is COLTAN?

"Columbite-tantalite: a valuable black mineral combining niobite and tantalite; used in cell phones and computer chips" (

Coltan is a solid solution, which is the contraction of two minerals used for the development of new technologies: mobile phones, making computers, video games, weapons, aerospace, among others.

Sadly 80% of this material is in Africa and its exploitation is strong. Wars, slavery, child labor, environmental disasters, endangered species through habitat destruction. Being a naturally rich continent, people live in poverty.

The main area where Coltan is mined in Congo, in the Kahuzi Biega National Park, which is home to mountain gorillas. For the exploitation of the substance, the gorilla population has declined by almost half.

Finally, I will leave a video that can be more enlightening than all these words. And some links that may be of interest, articles on the topic:

Related articles:

How can YOU help?

I know it might seem this is a conflict that takes place  far away, but we can help from where we are: 

1. INFORMATION. When buying a cell phone, or any appliance that has coltan, ask where the coltan comes from, or look on the internet (it will take you 5 minutes). If it is not indicated, it may be best to seek for some other brand. 

2. EXTEND THE LIFE OF YOUR CELLPHONE. Buy them when necessary, not simply change the cellular for fashion.

3. ELECTRONIC RECYCLING. Those containing coltan, it can be reused.

We can not keep closing our eyes to this situation. It is important to know that cell phones and gadgets we buy for a certain price, it often goes far beyond money.

(Andrea Arzaba, January 2011)


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