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Conflict Minerals and Cell Phones

Soulskill posted about 7 months ago | from the hit-your-back-button-before-you-feel-like-a-jerk dept.

Cellphones 136

Presto Vivace sends in this story at Slate: "If you are reading this on a smartphone, then you are probably holding in your palm the conflict minerals that have sent the biggest manufacturing trade group in the U.S. into a court battle with the Securities and Exchange Commission. At stake in this battle between the National Association of Manufacturers and the government is whether consumers will know the potentially blood-soaked origins of the products they use every day and who gets to craft rules for multinational corporations—Congress or the business itself. ... These minerals are tantalum (used in cellphones, DVD players, laptops, hard drives, and gaming devices), tungsten, tin, and gold, if they are mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo and surrounding countries including Rwanda, where the mineral trade has fueled bloody conflicts. The rule requiring disclosure of conflict minerals will go into effect in 2014. Congress included it in Dodd-Frank out of concern for what is known as the “resource curse”—the phenomenon wherein poor counties with the greatest natural resources end up with the most corrupt and repressive governments. The money earned from selling the natural resources props up these harsh regimes and funds violence against their citizens and neighbors."

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136 comments

Oil? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44906745)

Seems this should apply to oil, as well...

Re:Oil? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44906905)

That situation applies to Nigeria, specifically the oil pumped in the Niger Delta. The monopoly on oil production by Shell Oil has not only trashed the environment and by extension the livelihood of the natives, but tons of natural gas which could be harvested is simply burned off because it is too expensive (now) to transport across the Atlantic. The wealth is concentrated into the hands of the few rather than being equally distributed among the population. Iran is another nation which falls victim to a similar resource curse, albeit not as drastically as Nigeria.

You may be interested to know that the females in some African tribes have buttocks so big that the offspring perch on them for transport, and the men of some tribes have permanently erected penises as described in the novel The Covenant. [wikipedia.org] Also, I'm from the Congo, ook-ook-ook! Mbooboo Ubuntu ook-ook-ook! I am dancing like a monkey, with arms-a-flailing ook-ook-ook! Ngogo Mbobo ook-ook-ook.

-- Ethanol-fueled

I thought you were an anthropologist (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44907059)

I'm a fleabit peanut monkey [youtube.com]
All my friends are junkies..

Re:I thought you were an anthropologist (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44907167)

Have you ever wondered why your penis only has one hole? I mean, at least two very different things come out of there. Why not a hole for each? We have a separate tube for shitting after all.

Re:Oil? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44906953)

Well, just take the gold from the miners in alaska, they produce so much, I'm sure its enough to easily cover all the gold needed in the U.S.

Not just oil (0)

Roger W Moore (538166) | about 7 months ago | (#44907057)

It's not just oil - will our new Apple products come with the label: "Designed by Apple in a country which undertakes secret rendition, torture and massive online surveillance and privacy invasion."?

Re:Not just oil (2)

0123456 (636235) | about 7 months ago | (#44907073)

It's not just oil - will our new Apple products come with the label: "Designed by Apple in a country which undertakes secret rendition, torture and massive online surveillance and privacy invasion."?

"And we're not allowed to tell you whether it's spying on you."

Re:Oil? (2)

flayzernax (1060680) | about 7 months ago | (#44907125)

And plastics (Dupont) (Union Carbide from back in the day).

People of America you are getting bamboozled and ripped off. You could be making these things yourselves in your own small companies and making 100% of the profit. Yet you are a consumer of some megacorp that borders on monopoly and exports all trade and work oversease. These huge companies make and buy the materials for these things for slave labor cost or less.

If we did it ourselves, it'd be the same cost because it is marked up so much. Yet you would get the profit. Not some rich 1% person living behind so much government force and protection you can never take them on.

You live off the fat of your investments and the trickle down economics of McDonalds.

Re:Oil? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44907517)

Why would I make something myself for $100 plus investment in time and training when I can buy it for $89.95, fully made this second, packaged and on the shelf, made by people (or more likely, machines) better trained than I am, with quality control than I am likely to muster, and a warranty included?

Seems pretty dumb.

Re:Oil? (0)

flayzernax (1060680) | about 7 months ago | (#44907539)

Because you don't. You make it for your neighbors and sell it to your friends. Rather than raping and pillaging the rest of the world through some corporate illusion that Foxconn is a good company.

Re:Oil? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44907615)

Why would I make something myself for $100 plus investment in time and training when I can buy it for $89.95, fully made this second, packaged and on the shelf, made by people (or more likely, machines) better trained than I am, with quality control than I am likely to muster, and a warranty included?

Seems pretty dumb.

So that we collect enough local taxes to fund schools to educate our children so they're the ones better trained 20 years from now. After all, our children are the one's who will be wiping our asses when we're living off our 401k's in the old folks' home...

Re: Oil? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44908247)

If we train those little monsters too much, they will just get an attitude and won't be willing to wipe our asses for low wages. Less than 10% really need a college education.

Re:Oil? (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 7 months ago | (#44907931)

. You could be making these things yourselves in your own small companies

Are you aware that the US is the leading manufacturer in the world?

Re:Oil? (1)

flayzernax (1060680) | about 7 months ago | (#44908801)

The leading manufacturer of owned assets overseas. How much actually gets made in the USA? Don't BS because the "ledger" goes to some fat ass in wall street.

Who owns Sony-Erikson and where are their manufacturing facilities?

Re:Oil? (1)

jbeaupre (752124) | about 7 months ago | (#44907157)

The difference being that people are pretty well aware of that. This is intended to bring about the same level of knowing-but-ignoring.

Re:Oil? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44907581)

People are aware that the plastic in there phone came from countries with bloody conflicts, but they are not aware that other materials used in there phone may have a similar origin?
Low abiding oil companies, free form corruption will be hard to find, even within the US.

Worked for Britain (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44906769)

Only one solution. Take over the country and make it a colony. Then import for cheap.

let the Congo bombing raids begin (0)

themushroom (197365) | about 7 months ago | (#44906775)

The US has a longstanding policy of getting involved where it doesn't belong over some natural resources, why not others? We need hard drives and cell phones just as much as we need internal combustion cars... Right?

Re:let the Congo bombing raids begin (3, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | about 7 months ago | (#44906829)

So the history of the 21st century will be America going to war for Apple rather than oil?

Makes sense.

Re:let the Congo bombing raids begin (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44906911)

You mean going to war for Apple instead of Haliburton... or United Fruit... or pick a large company.

Re:let the Congo bombing raids begin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44906923)

most apple products use ssds now, but don't let that get in the way of your shitty "joke"

Re:let the Congo bombing raids begin (1)

mcl630 (1839996) | about 7 months ago | (#44907143)

I'm sure Apple products contain tantalum capacitors (most modern electronics do), and there's certainly tin in them. I'm not sure why you're fixating on the lack of a spinning hard drive, these materials are used in a lot of other electronics.

Reducing Tantalum Content (1)

sfm (195458) | about 7 months ago | (#44907705)

If the new requirements give some companies "image problems" it could actually succeed in reducing tantalum usage.

There is probably some relationship here with the current trend of high valued ceramic capacitors. You can easily find 100 uF ceramic caps in a form factor smaller then the same value tantalum and the cost is comparable.

The end result here (as always) is consumers paying more for some products.

Re: Reducing Tantalum Content (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44908309)

They will just use shitty cheap aluminum capacitors that dry out and fail. Plus-plus for companies like Apple. Their iDevices won't have to be killed with planned obsolescence iOS updates, they can simply die as soon as the particular model goes out of fashion.

Re:let the Congo bombing raids begin (1)

Khyber (864651) | about 7 months ago | (#44907221)

Most motherboards use tantalum, tin, and other conflict minerals, but don't let that get in the way of your sheer ignorance and lacking education.

Re:let the Congo bombing raids begin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44906965)

Well someone has to protect that precious IP.

Re:let the Congo bombing raids begin (1)

pla (258480) | about 7 months ago | (#44907015)

The US has a longstanding policy of getting involved where it doesn't belong over some natural resources, why not others? We need hard drives and cell phones just as much as we need internal combustion cars... Right?

The US doesn't have a specific lack of these "conflict minerals" - We simply don't have much in the way of proven reserves because they cost too much to pull out of the ground at current prices while obeying both environmental and labor laws.

As soon as the price starts to shoot up because China or DRC or public opinion or whatever becomes a barrier to cheap importation from somewhere with exploited child workers and a complete disregard for pollution, you can bet the farm you'll see mines spring up all over the place (Idaho, New Mexico, and South Carolina in particular have large known-but-mostly-untapped rare earth deposits) to meet demand.

So, no need to bomb anyone! Best of all, thanks to fracking (which admittedly has its own problems), we may soon have no reason to piss around in the sandbox, either. I, for one, look forward to a few decades of care-free isolationism in our near future.

FagPhones for all!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44906777)

This is why I only use FagPhones. They are ethically produced and FagOS is the greatest OS of all time.

Sent from my FagPhone 5s shoved up my boyfriend's ass

Uses of tantalum? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44906847)

I'm surprised the even limit the list at all... how about all microelectronics for decades? Its dielectric constant is just huge.

Re:Uses of tantalum? (1)

mcl630 (1839996) | about 7 months ago | (#44907173)

That was my thought as well, tantalum capacitors are used in almost everything.

Re:Uses of tantalum? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44907767)

The interesting thing that TFA does not mention is that most tantalum comes from Australia. Sometimes resources truly are limited to a small geographical area, and then if it is a conflict mineral, that is a tragedy ... but it is an oversimplification to say "ah, tantalum -- conflict mineral -- bad!" ... that's just a way for some rich westerners to make fun of other rich westerners for not knowing of some tragedy in the world, of which there are a great many.

Tantalum is useless for some kinds of capacitors, of course -- I can't find a reference at the moment, but I recall they have a low dielectric strength? and they certainly are not the cheapest -- but they are still the gold standard for miniature components.

Re:Uses of tantalum? (1)

lachlan76 (770870) | about 7 months ago | (#44908591)

The main problem with tantalum capacitors is that they tend to be low-voltage and will catch fire if you put a reverse voltage on them.

Re:Uses of tantalum? (4, Informative)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 7 months ago | (#44908111)

That was my thought as well, tantalum capacitors are used in almost everything.

There are three qualities you want in a capacitor:
1. Cheap
2. Reliable
3. High Capacitance

You can pick any two:
1 & 2 = Ceramic
1 & 3 = Electrolytic
2 & 3 = Tantalum

so what. (-1, Troll)

Xicor (2738029) | about 7 months ago | (#44906859)

i dont know about some tree hugging morons, but i dont really give a shit about the conditions in which minerals are attained. if it makes my product cheaper, it isnt my problem

Re:so what. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44906939)

Exactly. If the nigger beasts can't sort their shit out it ain't our job to do so. They kicked the white man out so they can deal with the consequences.

Re:so what. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44907029)

Exactly. If the nigger beasts can't sort their shit out it ain't our job to do so. They kicked the white man out so they can deal with the consequences.

You can not give a shit about poor people without being a racist, you know.

I have equal opportunity complete lack of caring about them.

Re:so what. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44907063)

You know, Africa is about 20% white? You're so racist, you don't even know what you're saying!

Re:so what. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44907131)

Yeah, they are the European descendants of the people who kept the niggers in line and not mass genociding each other. Then they were kicked out of power, robbed of their lands and now you got nigger dictators slaughtering other niggers all over the place.

Re:so what. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44907793)

You troll so hard, you have your history so screwed up, and you aren't even self-consistent with your racist lies. Not to mention your grammar sucks. God help you if you believe any of what you are saying.

Re:so what. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44907863)

How are my arguments not consistent? What is wrong with my grammar, Mr. Nazi?

Re:so what. (1)

Sir or Madman (2818071) | about 7 months ago | (#44906941)

Well congratulations to you for being unlike most people who would happily pay an extra $5 for a phone made without violence.

Re:so what. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44907045)

So I get to save $5, without any tangible personal detriment? Sounds like a pretty clear choice to me. It's disappointing to see so many (presumably) intelligent people on Slashdot clinging to slave morality.

Re:so what. (1)

Sir or Madman (2818071) | about 7 months ago | (#44907061)

It's disappointing to see so many (presumably) intelligent people on Slashdot clinging to financial morality.

Re:so what. (1)

ChrisMaple (607946) | about 7 months ago | (#44907231)

Minerals are fungible. If you want to risk your life to defeat slavers, have at it. Don't involve me, and get out of my face.

Re:so what. (1)

Xicor (2738029) | about 7 months ago | (#44907433)

an extra 5$? what are you smoking? more like an extra 10-30%. as soon as you start being a dumbass and giving in to shit like this, then you will start giving in to things like "hey, we should give chinese sweatshops more money so they can survive" this will double the price of labor, and guess what, YOU will be footing that bill, not the companies.

Re:so what. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44907823)

I'd hit my own fucking grandma with a baseball bat for a $10 off coupon.

Re:so what. (1)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | about 7 months ago | (#44906975)

i dont know about some tree hugging morons, but i dont really give a shit about the conditions in which minerals are attained. if it makes my product cheaper, it isnt my problem

You're probably a troll, but what the hell, I'll bite.

It becomes your problem when those 'conditions' lead to people who start to hate the west. People who start to listen to so-called leaders who are willing to turn those people into weapons. It becomes your problem when those people blow themselves up at rush hour at your local subway station. The world is a lot smaller than you think it is, and desperation causes people to strike out at their perceived agressors - Like the nation full of dickheads who think they needs a 5s when their 4ses are working perfectly well.

Re:so what. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44907119)

I don't think that has anything to do with us buying minerals from them. people hate the US because it is rich. we are also mostly christian and not muslim. i know you wish it was because we are just so oppressive and we don't care who we buy natural resources from, but it has a lot more to do with religion and culture. don't believe me - why do they have such a problem with israel? hint - it's not because they buy lots of precious metals.

Re:so what. (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 7 months ago | (#44907177)

I don't think that has anything to do with us buying minerals from them. people hate the US because it is rich. we are also mostly christian and not muslim.

Yet most of these people didn't hate America before 2001. They wanted Green Cards so they could move there and become rich too.

Re:so what. (1)

andymadigan (792996) | about 7 months ago | (#44907833)

First of all, 2001 wasn't even the first time that "these people" tried to blow up the WTC. They've hated us for a while, those of them that do (more a vocal minority than a majority).

If more of them hate us now, that's probably because we spent the better part of the last decade bombing them.

Re:so what. (1)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | about 7 months ago | (#44907765)

From TFA:

The âoeresource curseâ - the phenomenon wherein poor counties with the greatest natural resources end up with the most corrupt and repressive governments. The money earned from selling the natural resources props up these harsh regimes and funds violence against their citizens and neighbors

They're not angry because you're buying minerals, they're angry because their life is hellish, and ripe to to moulded into terrorists. If they had a better life then they'd go home to their families and watch TV, not listen to anti-US rants.

Re: so what. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44908385)

They also hate us because we give our women more freedom than they approve of, and because we don't persecute homosexuals enough.

I heard people die while trying to find them (1, Informative)

mveloso (325617) | about 7 months ago | (#44906861)

What's the point of these kinds of laws? Just like drugs, these resources will make their way to whomever wants to buy them. Where there's a market, there's a way.

Re:I heard people die while trying to find them (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 7 months ago | (#44906937)

What's the point of these kinds of laws?

I suspect the answer will come if you ask yourself: cui bono?

I doubt it's the poor people in these countries who'll be out of a job when they can't sell materials to America.

Re:I heard people die while trying to find them (1)

ChrisMaple (607946) | about 7 months ago | (#44907381)

What happens when, for instance, tantalum from the Congo is banned or subject to forced negative publicity? It's sold to Russia or any of a host of other middlemen, who then sell it to US companies, purified by plausible deniability. Clothes and money aren't the only things that can be laundered.

Re:I heard people die while trying to find them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44907481)

I doubt it's the poor people in these countries who'll be out of a job when they can't sell materials to America.

If they're the ones that are working in those mines, yes there may be some job losses. But I suspect that China and other countries won't really care, so they'll still be in business. The US manufacturing firms will have to buy from other sources, who will jack up their prices.

Re:I heard people die while trying to find them (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 7 months ago | (#44907089)

What's the point of these kinds of laws? Just like drugs, these resources will make their way to whomever wants to buy them. Where there's a market, there's a way.

That might be a problem if they were banning these minerals, but they're not. At most they're discouraging the use of them when they're obtained from certain dubious sources. All of those minerals are available elsewhere in the world though, so at most you'll see a small increase in price. That won't be enough to make it worth most companies while to smuggle them.

Ultimately what would be nice is if "blood free" sources of some of these minerals could be established in, for example, the Congo. Coltan (for tantalum) can literally be dug out of the ground with a shovel there, so it's a good way for some poor folks to make a buck.

P.S. Who is still using tantalum capacitors and why? I haven't designed one in in years. Between the high capacitance ceramics and the solid electrolyte aluminum capacitors available these days, I don't see the use of tantalum.

Re:I heard people die while trying to find them (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 7 months ago | (#44907193)

That might be a problem if they were banning these minerals, but they're not.

If slippery slopes weren't a logical fallacy, the next step after compulsory labeling would be the compulsory ban.

Re:I heard people die while trying to find them (2)

ChrisMaple (607946) | about 7 months ago | (#44907479)

My experience is decades old, so I may be wrong, but ... Tantalum electrolytics are used where temperatures are too high for aluminum electrolytics, and where relatively high capacitance and relatively low ESR are needed in a small package. High reliability is also a feature, once (explosive) infant mortality is accounted for.

Re:I heard people die while trying to find them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44908055)

P.S. Who is still using tantalum capacitors and why? I haven't designed one in in years. Between the high capacitance ceramics and the solid electrolyte aluminum capacitors available these days, I don't see the use of tantalum.

We use them quite intensively in satellite electronics. Aluminum capacitors are forbidden in space and space-qualified MLCCs are very far from providing the required capacitance.

Where does the moral outrage end? (4, Insightful)

Nutria (679911) | about 7 months ago | (#44906921)

Why not also China, where manufacturing props up a violent and corrupt dictatorship? What props up equally -- though differently -- corrupt India? The US is pretty violent too, and corrupt, as is Mexico.

Re:Where does the moral outrage end? (5, Funny)

Farmer Tim (530755) | about 7 months ago | (#44907027)

That does it! I'm not buying another thing made on this planet ever again.

Re:Where does the moral outrage end? (1)

32771 (906153) | about 7 months ago | (#44907327)

No need to worry about the extremes, you could just use stuff at lower rates maybe there is even some sort of optimum somewhere.

Also once we are through with this planet all the concentrated stuff will be spread out and the energy we will be willing to expend to process a mineral at a certain concentration will be less than is required. Then we will find something new (then we are not though with this planet and we can increase the future maximum possible moral outrage) or we are screwed (then we have achieved maximum spread, at this point the moral outrage will not be balanced by progress anymore).

I hope this wasn't too convoluted.

Re:Where does the moral outrage end? (0)

postbigbang (761081) | about 7 months ago | (#44907041)

We need only look in a mirror to find a violent and corrupt democracy.

One mountain at a time, as they say. First you fix what you can to prevent wholesale slaughter, rape, and pillage. Then you move on to the retail, bought and sold kind.

You can make choices, based on the information. Who's doing a better job of dictatorships? Vote them out with your monetary choices.

Re:Where does the moral outrage end? (2)

ChrisMaple (607946) | about 7 months ago | (#44907511)

Who's doing a better job of dictatorships? Vote them out with your monetary choices

<sarcasm> That's working really well in the case of North Korea. </sarcasm>

Re:Where does the moral outrage end? (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 7 months ago | (#44907943)

OH MY GOSH I just realized that the history of humanity is one of violence, corruption, and death!

I wouldnt put China quite on the level of Rwanda, however.

Resource Curse? (3, Interesting)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 7 months ago | (#44906943)

“resource curse”—the phenomenon wherein poor counties with the greatest natural resources end up with the most corrupt and repressive governments.

My ass - that shit is engineered by the people and groups who stand to profit from preventing those people from taking ownership of their national resources.

The De Beers artificial diamond shortages [wikipedia.org] being a prime example.

Re:Resource Curse? (2)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about 7 months ago | (#44907049)

The whole statement is ridiculous doublethink. "Poor countries with the greatest natural resources"? In Burkina Faso, you can get gold by sifting tiny, tiny flecks out of dirt. That's not super-rich great natural resources; there's gold in the dirt and it takes a ridiculous amount of effort to get to it, so that's essentially "resource poor".

If these countries had great natural resources, they would be rich as living fuck. Don't tell me that ubiquitous presence of trace elements means "great natural resources", because that's like saying the bits of water you can squeeze from plants in the desert count as "well-hydrated marsh region." Hell, the desert's better off: you can squeeze a cactus. Imagine that water being distributed evenly across the desert as moisture in soil 6 inches under the sand. Water like a raging river, but you have to acquire it by concentrating what is an unending puff of dampness stretched across the vast and endless desert. More water than in the Mississippi, but at least we could stick a bucket into the Mississippi and get something vaguely drinkable.

They're poor for a reason. It's the exact opposite of having great natural resources.

Re:Resource Curse? (4, Informative)

OzPeter (195038) | about 7 months ago | (#44907101)

Re:Resource Curse? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44908081)

Wouldn't buying this book ironic, he was paid to commit heinous crimes and he wants to be paid for his confessions too? If a Chinese, or Russian, or some ME national wrote book abut how he did similar things in the US, wouldn't the US want him extradited?

Please don't buy this book, that is the least you can do, the best being trying to send him to prison.

I Don't Give a Damn (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44906947)

Whole "conflict" thing was started by DeBeers so they could hold onto their diamond cartel.

Every commodity has "conflict", "sweatshop", "shitty conditions" problem. All the labels are going to do is create incentives to funnel consumers into several options, with manufacturers using bribes, cartels, and smoke and mirrors.

Conflict Diamonds (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44906949)

Somehow I expect this is like conflict diamonds. In a war, it's hard for De Beers to keep a strangle hold on diamond mining, so they start a PR campaign against free market diamonds. I wouldn't be surprised if the interests driving this are economic not social welfare.

Re:Conflict Diamonds (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44907315)

Assuming this is the same situation, is there any way I can confirm that my cell phone's components were once soaked in the blood of tyrants? I'd toss in an extra $50 (once, not on the monthly bill) for some sort of proof of that.

No shocker (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44906981)

The reality is that most people don't give a shit. Oh they say they do but they truly don't. They like the idea of being guilt free but when it comes right down to it, they won't vote with their wallets.

This is comparable to the "buy local" campaigns you see at grocery stores in the US. People say they want to but then when it winds up being significantly more expensive, they opt for the cheaper products rather than local. They tell themselves "next time" to appease their conscience.

A law declaring the origins of products won't change peoples buying habits. Showing them the maimed bodies will.

Conflict Petroleum (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44907001)

Oh wait, it's not a conflict when the US does it ... duh!

Fuckin' eh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44907037)

I want to know someone died so I can have this phone!

Multilayer ceramic capacitors (4, Interesting)

32771 (906153) | about 7 months ago | (#44907099)

Nowadays there are MLCCs at 220uF that could replace Tantalum in a number of applications, not to mention Niobium based capacitors that derive their raw materials from Brasil and Canada.

we don`t need violents and corrupt democracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44907165)

we don`t need violents and corrupt democracy.. if so.. visit our campain http://www.anunturi-reale.com

“resource curse” (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44907233)

"poor counties with the greatest natural resources end up with the most corrupt and repressive governments."

You mean, like, Canada?

The missing mineral is the one that matters (5, Interesting)

dcooper_db9 (1044858) | about 7 months ago | (#44907301)

This isn't about naturally rare minerals, it's about the one mineral that's rare by design. This is the latest in a long history of disinformation campaigns intended to keep DeBeers' control of the diamond. In fact, diamonds are so common in nature that there are beaches in Africa where they wash up on shore. You could pick them up like seashells if it weren't for the armed guards ready and willing to shoot anyone who tries. If DeBeers ever lost control of the market the value of diamonds would plumet.

When General Electric developed the first artificial diamond DeBeers bought the company. When Israel threatened to dump their cache on the market, DeBeers practically bought the country. They spent billions buying artificial diamonds from the Soviets, just to keep them off the market. In the US, when DeBeers was investigated for antitrust violations they put every employee in their country on a plane and sent them back to Europe. In one night. The next day there was a new person in every US job, and not one of those people could testify about how DeBeers operates. If you ever want to have your life turned upside down, try buying and selling used diamonds. See just how long it takes for DeBeers to shut you down.

DeBeers modus operandi is to back whoever controls a country, as long as they are willing to do business. If not, DeBeers will back a coup. So, if you want to control an African country, step 1 is to gain control over the diamonds. If you want to get rich, step 1 is to take over a country. THAT is why there's so much violence in Africa. The regime that labels "conflict" minerals is just one of the tools DeBeers uses to maintain control. The "conflict" countries are places where more than one group operates. Whatever group is on the outside will smuggle diamonds out, undermining price controls.

The history of the DeBeers cartel is the most fascinating and disturbing story that's rarely told. If you haven't read it I strongly recommend a trip to the local library. Don't wait for Hollywood to tell the story. They're too busy writing a sequel to "Blood Diamonds". On contract of course. The sad truth is that EVERY diamond is a blood diamond.

Re:The missing mineral is the one that matters (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44907561)

Diamonds washing up on shore? You mean like these [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:The missing mineral is the one that matters (1)

32771 (906153) | about 7 months ago | (#44907635)

Personally I blame stupid women and needy men on this, all sensible and industrial needs are fulfilled with artificial diamonds. The problem is diamonds are not really the issue we are talking about. It is first and foremost energy and concentration of minerals and their availability. If the concentration of ores in unstable regions lowers enough that stable regions are becoming competitive again (hmm, why would that be?) things will change.

Re:The missing mineral is the one that matters (0)

IronChef (164482) | about 7 months ago | (#44907995)

Don't just say, "go to the library," give us something to work with if you are familiar with the topic.

Re:The missing mineral is the one that matters (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44908323)

What are you talking about? De Beers never bought General Electric...

Oil and Diamonds are far worse (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 7 months ago | (#44907549)

Oil is highly correlated with terrorism, non-functional government, and massive subsidies.

Diamonds are highly correlated with even more problems.

So, just download iOS7 instead of buying the iPhone 5s, and wait until the iPhone 6 comes out.

fairphone (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44907551)

This is perhaps the right place to plug the Fairphone ( www.fairphone.com ), an experiment in making electronic products free from conflict minerals and exploitation of workers. It's not a commercial phone manufacturer (they're only making 25.000, at least to start with), it's more a proof of concept and they seem to be pulling it off. Obviously it's relatively easy to source non-conflict minerals when you're only making 25.000 units, not so easy to scale that up under current conditions.

But if every manufacturer were forced to disclose where they sourced their raw materials from, and consumers reacted by avoiding blood minerals, this could actually have effects on the ground: the value of conflict mines would be reduced as fewer manufacturers bought from them, and the incentive to fight over control of said mines would be reduced accordingly. The parties in conflict would have a strong incentive to find peace so they could resume sales--better share profits with your rival that sit on top of a mine that cannot sell anything.

Of course the companies will fight tooth and nail to stop this. In the name of life, liberty and the pursuit of shareholder value. Captcha: "malice". Heh

Tantalum Capacitors (4, Informative)

residents_parking (1026556) | about 7 months ago | (#44907617)

Since ceramic got so good, I haven't needed to specify Tantalum in any of my designs for 5 or more years. In my experience, it is mostly inertia / laziness that keeps designers from exploring alternatives.

Like most engineers, I enjoy the challenge when someone says "you have to use tantalum - nothing else will work". True, Y5V Ceramic has highly voltage-dependent capacitance. So what? Often it's ESR and not absolute capacitance you need, anyway.

Re:Tantalum Capacitors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44907723)

There are a lot of old spec sheets and example designs that specify tantalum capacitors, because those had low ESR 20 years ago and aluminum caps didn't.

The aluminum and ceramic caps have gotten a lot better, but the old spec sheets and example circuits promoting tantalums are still floating around out there.

Re:Tantalum Capacitors (3, Informative)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 7 months ago | (#44908157)

If you need better stability than Y5V, but still need high values in a reasonable size, X5R is good. I haven't used tantalum in 10 years. For electrolytics I find solid electrolyte aluminums are fine for most stuff, and can always be shunted with a ceramic if need be. I've even used these kinds of parts in military designs.

Sanctions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44908303)

This is what government sanctions are for.

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