Coltan Mining (both lessons)

Think the
Coltan Mining in the DRC
Comparing Kenya and DRC (Democratic
Republic of Congo)
The map on the left shows the
GDP of the countries of Africa.
GDP means the average amount
of money each person in the
country has per year.
The GDP on this map has been
measured in a way that compares
all the different currencies so
higher numbers = wealthier
Low numbers = poorer
These men live in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
one of the poorest countries in the world. 37% of
Congolese people don’t have access to any medical
service, 47% doesn’t have safe drinking water, and 50
million people eat less than two-thirds of the calories they
need every day.
People in the area were once farmers. That changed in
1998 when Rwanda and Uganda (the countries next door)
invaded DRC. The Rwandan Army wants control of the area
and the minerals within it.
The war has killed
thousands of people
through fighting,
starvation and
disease. Two million
people have been
forced from their
homes. Many have
been forced to go and
work on the mines.
The invaded area is the Kahuzi
Biega National Park in East DRC.
This is rainforest and home to one
of the endangered mountain
gorilla. The rainforest is being cut
down for mining and gorillas that
live here are being killed for meat
and because their habitat is going.
These men mine coltan in the war zone. They have no
option. They dig in the soil and then use large washtubs
to slosh the water and mud. This lets the heavy coltan
settle to the bottom. One man works with his son, who is
ten years old. His son used to go to school but school is
expensive so instead the boy works to earn money.
The miners are supervised by Rwandan soldiers. When one
finds some coltan, he hands it to the soldiers who then pay
the man a small amount of money. The soldiers take the
coltan to ‘trading posts’ controlled by the Rwandan Army. It
is estimated that the Rwandan Army makes US$20 million a
month from coltan mining.
At the ‘trading posts’, foreign traders buy the coltan and
ship it abroad. It is bought by one of three companies –
the United States of America’s Cabot Inc. (USA), HC Starc
(Germany) or Nigncxia (China). These companies to turn
coltan into tantalum powder. This ‘magic powder’ is then
sold to Nokia, Motorola, Compaq, Alcatel, Ericsson and
Boris Johnson owns a mobile phone. The phone contains
‘magic powder’ from coltan. It is used to make the batteries
in mobile phones last longer.
So, when Boris bought a mobile phone, he connected
himself to the coltan miners from the Democratic Republic
of Congo.
What continent is DRC in?
What is the main thing coltan is used for?
Does DRC have a jungle?
What large animal suffers due to coltan mining?
Which two country’s armies invaded DRC to get
its coltan?
What is the invisible energy given off by coltan
What does DRC stand for?
Why are the gorillas dying out (there are two
Name three of the phone companies that use
Democratic Republic
of Congo is one of the
poorest countries in
the world
Under the ground in
DRC there is a type of
rock called coltan.
This is very valuable
The people in east
Rwanda used to live
on the edge of the
rainforest and work
on their farms
Soldiers from Rwanda
invaded DRC.
Thousands were killed
and their farms were
dug up to mine coltan.
The farmers and their
families now have to
work as miners for
very little money.
Lots of the forest has
been cut down and
miners often kill
gorillas to eat so the
gorillas are
The coltan the miners
find is bought by the
army for very little
money and then sold
to big companies.
Coltan is used to make
batteries for the
mobile phones we all
Think the link
Stop using Coltan from the DRC
80% of coltan comes from the DRC,
but Australia, Brazil and Thailand have
reserves too . We should only buy
mobile phones that use coltan from
these countries.
This is difficult because it is hard to
know where coltan comes from.
Community conservation reserves
Conservation reserves are protected
areas where tourists can see gorillas
in their natural habitat.
The community run the reserves and
charges tourists entry fees to see the
gorillas. This makes the community
money instead of mining coltan.
How can we solve the problem?
Recycle mobile phones
If mobile phones are recycled
fewer new phones are needed, which
reduces the need for coltan mining.
People should donate old phones to
charities such as Oxfam and to buy
reconditioned phones rather than
new ones.
Help coltan miners
Charities such as the Gorilla
Organization help save gorillas but
also improve conditions for people
like the coltan miners. They have set
up a reforestation project, a foodgrowing project and other ways of
making money instead of mining.
Which option would each of these
people/things prefer?
a. Gorillas would prefer …………
because ….
b. Coltan miners would prefer
………… because ….
c. The rainforest would prefer
………… because ….
d. Mobile phone companies would
prefer ………… because ….
What should be done?
Write a letter to Boris Johnson to
describe what is happening and
what should be done.
This will needs 2 sections.
1. Use your storyboard to write a paragraph
explaining what is happening
2. Then describe what you think should be done to
improve the situation.
Make sure you explain how your idea will work.

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