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This PDF (i saw a translated version) has been brought to my attention.

it claims that Coltan is the main cause of a conflict which has claimed the lives of four million people since 1997 and as also caused the disappearance of several populations of gorillas.

The extraction of coltan, a very rare mineral used mainly for technological purposes, has led to a long internal conflict in Congo, that since 1997 (more than a decade ago), as claimed more than four million lives. The struggle to control the mines of this mineral, as well as the diamond mines, has led to this terrible situation, which as claimed many lives before the eyes of the international community. There have been and there still are real situations of famine in many regions of this country that supports an almost untenable external debt. However, Congo is one of the richest countries in the world, being "The basin of the Congo River”, the second largest rainforest on earth. In the mountains of Kakuzi‐Biega National Park, where Coltan is extracted, the lives of hundreds of gorillas are in danger or have finished this last decade, causing the loss of important groups of this endangered species, compromising its long term survival.

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    It's kind of like saying that production of opium is the cause of war in Afghanistan. Just because it's source of income for all sides in the conflict, does not make it the cause. – vartec Nov 28 '12 at 12:10
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    People are the cause of conflict... The mineral just sits there minding its own business till people use it to blow each other up. – Chad Nov 28 '12 at 14:36
  • So coltan explains more than diamonds or platinum or whatever else they have in Congo? – matt_black Nov 28 '12 at 22:39
  • @matt_black that's what seem strange to me. I was trying to understand how much of this claim is some type of pseudo-luddist rant and a way to make people feel guilty about technological gadgets. I'm trying to assemble an answer (some people asked me if it's true), but I'm a little short of time right now; I'm going to, if no one answers first – Duralumin Nov 29 '12 at 8:22
  • and then I know that, for example, Samsung is aware of the problem and has a "Policy of Coltan" : samsung.com/eu/sustainability/policyofcoltan.html – Duralumin Nov 29 '12 at 8:23

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