Gorilla congo coltan

Image source zoo.org.au

It is common that most of our gadgets contain a substance by the name of Coltan, particularly our mobile phones. This mineral is widely mined in the forests of central Africa, such as the Congo. This business has erupted over the last decade and demand and prices have never been higher, unfortunately there have been some severe knock on effects that have resulted in huge proportions of the forest being erased. Many animals that have this area as their natural habitat have been slaughtered, the Eastern African Gorilla being one of them. The shocking truth is, the illegal sale of their ape meat provides additional income for the miners to profit further from the destruction of the forestry, landscape and wildlife who made it their home.

The out of control volume of the illegal miners that have migrated to Africa to mine Coltan is now in the 10,000+. These volumes can easy illustrate the effects to the landscape and the depletion of Gorilla populations. This is a vicious loop as the demand for mobile phones and other devices increases, so does the price of Coltan and the desire for illegal miners to migrate into the territory in search of work.

“Most people are unaware of the connection between the components that make up their phones and the direct impact of the health and survival of the wildlife contained in the mined areas” said Ashley Turner, owner of a phone recycling business, comparemymobile.com.

Many phone recycling companies, environmental groups and even Zoos have made a conscious effort to launch phone recycling campaigns to raise awareness and reduce the demand for Coltan. There are now 1.4 phones to every 1 person on the planet, this is caused by the vast lack of recycling and re-purposing of the devices.

Infographic phone recycling

Click for zoom

The facts:

  • Europe has in excess of 160 Million unused phones
  • The US has 130 Million unused devices
  • In the UK there is around 40 Million mobile phones that lay dormant
  • The average person changes their phone every 12-18 months
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Tips how you can help:

  1. Reuse: Pass on old devices to a friend or family member
  2. Recycle: Find an in store or online service to recycle your device

The key message is to not just bin or store old devices. What ideas do you have to reduce the impact of Coltan mining? Is there a local Zoo or charity you think might be interested? Please share your thoughts below and start a discussion…

This was an article authored by Coel Drysdale.

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