As usual, I don't know if this is in the right place, but here goes anyway...
There was a great piece on Channel 4 news in the UK the other night, telling of war in Eastern Congo and how it was related to the mining of
Cassiterite, which is basically Tin ore. Since Japan and Western nations banned the use of Lead, Tin is now used within electronic components, and as
a result, it’s price on the world market has shot up. Tin is apparently now the most traded metal within the London market.
Heres a piece of Cassiterite -
Centred around Walikale, in Eastern Congo, large deposits of Cassiterite are first mined and transported by locals, then shipped by air to dealers
residing in local African towns, from where it is sold onto the world market for a hefty price. As you can imagine, the areas containing the mines are
highly sought after, with five different armies having had control, at one time or another, over the last five years!
I must say, the mines themselves were not like any mine I have visited. Basically, what you had was a bit of a clearing in the forest, with a hole in
the ground full of frantic young men wielding everything from sticks to pick-axes. It did seem to be a bit of a free for all. All the while, soldiers
were milling about, just generally keeping an eye on things. The film then went on to show local ‘porters’ carrying 50kg bags full of rocks, on
their backs, through the forest for two days. For this, the local lad they were tailing got £5! As the reporter said, it all seemed a far cry from
the glamour of the electronics industry.
(Only Walikale image I could find. As you can see, the infrastructure is not exactly conducive to the easy and fast transportation of the raw
Now, it would be very easy here to say that the Rich World is perpetuating the misery by exploiting the locals and supplying money, via trade, for
arms to be bought. My point, however, is that it is not a Rich Nation that controls the source of the raw materials. A local, African, agent must be
dealt with in order to acquire the goods desired. It is as true now as it was 200 years ago.
Surely the African agent must bear some moral responsibility for what has occurred, and for what is occurring now.