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Brownback Calls for Action Against 'Conflict Coltan'

Says mineral coltan is source of conflict in Congo, U.S. must do its part

Contact: Brian Hart/Becky Ogilvie, Sam Brownback, United States Senator - Kansas, 202-224-6521


WASHINGTON, Feb. 15 /Standard Newswire/ -- U.S. Senator Sam Brownback on the Senate floor called for an end to conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  Brownback specifically called for the United States and other nations to help ban the buying and use of conflict coltan. 

"There is a humanitarian crisis in Congo, where 1,500 people die each day," said Brownback.  "The crisis is significantly fueled by conflict over natural resources, specifically conflict over the mineral coltan.  Regrettably, in Africa we have seen too many conflicts arising from the exploitation of natural resources.  America and countries around the world must work together to ensure that the coltan we use is not mined in an exploitative manner."  

Coltan, or columbite-tantalite, is a mineral that when refined becomes tantalum.  Tantalum is an extremely hard, dense element that is highly resistant to corrosion and holds electrical charges as high as 125 Centigrade.  These characteristics of tantalum are vital to the production of tantalum capacitors.  Tantalum capacitors are used in the manufacturing of a wide variety of electronic equipment, including cell phones, gaming devices, DVD players, computers, flat-screen televisions, and advanced weapons systems. 

Brownback continued, "Coltan powers much of today's essential communications and technological advances.  Almost every American owns at least one device in which coltan has been used.  Unfortunately, the mining of Congo's coltan continues to fund the conflict which encompasses child-labor, human-trafficking, child soldiers, rape and sexual violence, and the general devastation of the Congolese people." 

Brownback plans to introduce legislation requiring certification of the origin of coltan for all U.S.-based companies that use tantalum in manufacturing.  It will further require manufacturers who use tantalum to have a certification of origin.