I stumbled across a suprisingly well written and interesting article on the technology part of the stuff website today. It documents the illegal mining of a rare metal Tantalum in Africa and involves a classic plot of African Militia, ex-russian warlords and big spending consumer demand. Its worth a read.
“Tantalum is an rare metal with unique properties. Chief among these is that with a melting point of 2996 degrees Celsius, it’s a superlative thermal conductor.
Almost two-thirds of the world’s tantalum production ends up in high-quality capacitors that are used in devices such as mobile phones and other electronic gadgets.
For much of the past decade, cheap supplies of tantalum derived from mines under the control of various rebel groups based in the north-eastern regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have flowed into a long and complex supply chain.”