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Coltan is an abbreviation for Columbite-Tantalite. A mineral with the unique ability when refined to reduce corrosion and increase heat resistance. The mineral is valuable for technology industries, its demand exploded in the past 10 years. It is used to producecell phones, dvd-players, laptop computers and games as well in jet engines, ballistic missiles and nuclear reactors.
Until a few years ago, 80% World's known reserves were in Congo (DRC), mostly in the Eastern provinces of Kivus and Orientale, extracted from the ore in a process similar to that of the Californian gold miners of the 1800s.
In coincidence with this minerary exploitation, the war in Eastern Congo has started raging among native tribes, mainly driven by economic factors: an outside consumer market hungry for **laptops and telephones** for which Congo delivers the raw materials.
The conflict has resulted in estimated 4 million deaths, 2 million displaced and 340.000 refugees in neighbouring countries. 30% of East Congolese school children are reported to be working in the coltan mines under inhuman conditions.
This crisis is the worst contemporary humanitarian crisis in the World provoked by Western post-colonialist economies.