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Sprint Moves To Eliminate 'Blood Minerals' From Cell Phones 74

Posted by Soulskill
from the don't-make-us-think-about-these-things dept.
Velcroman1 writes "So-called 'blood diamonds' or conflict diamonds are the well-publicized face of the decades-long human rights challenge in Africa. But the mining and sale of a lesser-known but more widely used group of natural resources known as 'blood minerals' has also fueled civil wars in Congo and Uganda — and they're in the latest smartphones. Congress sought to address the issue through the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, which included a requirement for companies to disclose conflict minerals. In 2011 the SEC opened a public debate about this disclosure — but Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Washington is critical of the process. 'They are afraid of being sued by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and the World Gold Council,' McDermott said. Ahead of the SEC ruling, Sprint has made baby steps to come to terms with the controversy, joining the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) and the Public-Private Alliance for Responsible Minerals Trade (PPA), and said it is working to make device manufacturers aware of the issue. But are they doing enough?"
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Sprint Moves To Eliminate 'Blood Minerals' From Cell Phones

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  • Hmm? (Score:3, Funny)

    by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Friday June 08, 2012 @02:32PM (#40260651) Homepage Journal
    How much iron is really in a cell phone? Oh wait...
  • by houstonbofh (602064) on Friday June 08, 2012 @02:34PM (#40260685)
    At least it is something for the drug kingpins to do if we finally legalize pot...

    Saying "I am not going to buy this very valuable thing from you because you are bad" just gives others the opportunity to make a bit of scratch moving it around.
    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      Or might give someone else the opportunity to sell it for a little more making it in a better way.

      What you advocate is that using slave labor is fine and no one should ever try to "vote with their dollars".

      • This is like voting for oil with your dollars. We will not buy from X, but China will. Or Bob the Arms dealer will and then sell it to us from Panama. The rare earth elements are valuable because they are hard to find and in high demand. And unlike oil, you can put a lot of value in a small suitcase, and move it easily.
    • by fredrated (639554)

      Perhaps you could elaborate: if the phone manufacturers don't make phones with blood minerals, how will you buy them from someone else?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 08, 2012 @02:37PM (#40260721)

    Well I'll be switching to sprint just for the effort. For a while now I have been purchasing ethically traded products and really trying to decrease my dependence upon slave made and harvested products. (it costs a bit but if we vote with our dollars some change may occur). I also think it is better for the economy (Global and local). Because more money goes to the workers, thus more money moves around.

    I may be an idiot or a sucker but at the very least I feel better about myself!

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Sure... I think you just want unlimited data.

      • The data miners at Sprint are free-trade.

      • by scot4875 (542869)

        Sure... I think you just want unlimited data.

        Eh, I have Sprint, and unlimited data is nice ... but in my area, the speeds are so pathetic that it's basically like trying to empty an oil drum through a coffee stir. I could probably do it over the course of a month, but it'd take a lot of effort.

        --Jeremy

    • by gatfirls (1315141)
      Me too, I don't like to think the slave labor assembling my phone is using anything less than the morally best!
    • really trying to decrease my dependence upon slave made and harvested products.

      . . . I've stopped using anything from projects that I have worked on . . .

  • by nroets (1463881) on Friday June 08, 2012 @02:42PM (#40260787)
    Trying to track down where in Africa minerals are mined will require massive spending on auditors and lawyers. Bribery and corruption is rife. A much more effective approach is to support refugees, wherever they may end up. Furthermore, population growth and AIDS are larger problems than the African civil wars. Rwanda's population is already larger that what is was before the genocide there.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You see, the main problem I see here, is that the FBI could help! But they only work offshore if it's related to software piracy.
      • If I had points, I would mod you up. I would just have a hard time choosing between Funny and Insightful.
    • by chemicaldave (1776600) on Friday June 08, 2012 @03:02PM (#40261023)
      Yeah, forget the protection of workers. Let's just compensate them. "Sorry you lost your home and your hand got cut off for not mining enough. But here's a tent!"
    • by Sarten-X (1102295)

      Furthermore, population growth and AIDS are larger problems than the African civil wars. Rwanda's population is already larger that what is was before the genocide there.

      Population growth and AIDS are partly due to the civil wars. If an area's unsafe, volunteer educators and doctors are far more rare, so STDs spread rampantly. With uncertainty about the future and high rates of child mortality, people reproduce as much as they can, trying to ensure that their family/tribe/group will endure, and even grow large enough to eventually win whatever the current conflict is. These civil wars have grown from centuries of tribal conflict, so the battle plans are laid out on a scale

      • by s.petry (762400)

        We should give them a good US education! They can score really high on a tests, have absolutely no working knowledge, and be hooked on Facebook! Hell, that may solve the problem with population as well. Who has time to make friends or babies when you have the interweb thing in your face all day!

    • Trying to track down where in Africa minerals are mined will require massive spending on auditors and lawyers. Bribery and corruption is rife. A much more effective approach is to support refugees, wherever they may end up. Furthermore, population growth and AIDS are larger problems than the African civil wars. Rwanda's population is already larger that what is was before the genocide there.

      Not really.

      There are three minerals involved - tungsten, tantalum and tin. The electronics groups have gotten together to work on the first mineral, tantalum and have done it at the smelter scale. There are 45 smelters worldwide that process coltan into tantalum, and from there it's a lot easier.

      http://spectrum.ieee.org/semiconductors/materials/cracking-down-on-conflict-minerals [ieee.org]

      The other two are next challenges (Tin is used for displays and touchscreens, tungsten in motors. Hrm... old style lightbulbs - conflict lightbulbs?)

      http://spectrum.ieee.org/semiconductors/materials/cracking-down-on-conflict-minerals [ieee.org]

      • Not really.

        There are three minerals involved - tungsten, tantalum and tin. The electronics groups have gotten together to work on the first mineral, tantalum and have done it at the smelter scale. There are 45 smelters worldwide that process coltan into tantalum, and from there it's a lot easier.

        I'm not challenging your statement because I'm ignorant on the question.

        But really, when a ship, truck or train car arrive in the middle of the night, and cash passes hands - commerce in Africa is even more sketchy than China... There is every possibility that the actual source of raw materials is obfuscated to protect all the slimy business dealings...

        Unless there are laboratory alalysis being done on the raw ore by independent watchers that can verify the chain of custody of the ore, in my ignorant opinio

        • Unless the ore has some unique property that narrowly separates different origins (like isotope percentages), laboratory analysis may not fully identify the origin of the ore. Even then it may give a general, imprecise origin like "Central Africa" Some of these conflict minerals come from countries where the neighboring country is conflict-free and may have the same signature. In an ideal situation where laboratory analysis may distinguish the material, the origin can be partially obscured by mixing it w

  • (too much?)
    that's something that should be discussed at government level, as i see it, ,no one gives a shit about the whole continent after it got dug out, only the chinese seem interested in at least putting up some sweat shops in the sand where the others just send food and weapons for the warlords now who's the hippie and who's right here ?
  • How do we know which side to be on when something is labeled a "conflict mineral"?. I ask because when you stop to consider the historical context of uprisings, the governments and corporations are not always the good guys.
    Would minerals (or oil) sold to support the recent Libya uprising be considered "conflict minerals" if they didn't support Khaddifi?
    Or is the criterion solely "if it wasn't mined by a corporation, it must be bad"?

    For example, look at the "blood diamond" issue.
    Which is more ethical? Buying

    • You gotta be pretty bad if your corporation is too evil for the USA.

      then why is oracle still here?

    • You gotta be pretty bad if your corporation is too evil for the USA.

      That is one heck of a statement right there. And sig length too...

  • They're going to stop buying phones made in China? Wait China is okay right...

  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Friday June 08, 2012 @03:12PM (#40261129)

    Blood diamonds are diamonds that have been mined. And up until science came up with a way to create synthetic and flawless diamonds, they were a rare and valuable natural resource. But like I said, until then. What happened after was laws were passed banning the use of synthetic diamonds in jewelry, and by 'happy' coincidence, their use in industrial process as well. Thus the distributors of diamonds in this (and other) countries could continue to command large sums of money for a rare and natural resource -- even though we now had a common and abundantly available supply via industrial process.

    And so, because of the decisions of those individuals, corporations, etc., with the kind help of the majority of Congress and the authorization of the President, we helped make it possible for the exploitation of millions. We assisted in the enslavement of human beings, by trading our dollars for the fruit of those unnecessary labors. And we have allowed this to go on for as long as it has, because as long as we don't have to stare into their faces with a recognition of what they've done -- that our dollars do it for us, we can remain in ignorant or apathetic bliss.

  • ... when Sprint stops taking my blood once every month.
  • let's just mine these damn things so we don't have to screw with third world countries, though kind of difficult to do right now (like everything else). If we do want to help Africans, help rebuild their water systems.
  • Congress sought to address the issue through the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, which included a requirement for companies to disclose conflict minerals.

    Well, right there is part of the problem. If this is something that should be dealt with in U.S. law (I can understand why it is, but I can imagine that there might be a good argument as to why it shouldn't be...and am not interested in arguing that point from either side), it should be in a law all by itself, not as an afterthought tagged on to a banking regulation bill.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    My God man, Sprint was extracting its minerals from BLOOD?!? The inhuman beasts!
    However, that does explain the recent drop in the homeless population in the Overland Park area.

    • by CompMD (522020)

      Well, at least local business was getting use from them. Here I was just thinking the homeless were simply being exported to the 'dotte.

  • That would be a shorter list. How about the coal mines in China where criminals and political prisoners are sent to die? How about the infamous Norilsk nickle mine in Russia?
  • Shouldn't we do something about the oil we import from countries that abuse their citizen's rights [slashdot.org]?

    • by rubycodez (864176)

      you're funny, the USA leads in the body count for kills and maiming for the petro-dollar cartel. all U.S. resources are blood resources

  • There's a simple solution to US companies buying these minerals (and oil as well) from "conflict" regions and from those who are declared enemies of the US.

    Mine/drill for it here in the US. The US has plenty of oil and the minerals being discussed to supply us for centuries even accounting for best growth estimates. The information is out there, do a Google search.

    We've allowed the government to tie our own hands behind our backs with regulations and laws which make it extremely costly & difficult, if n

  • by Osgeld (1900440)

    thats mighty un-capitalistic of you

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tantalus [wikipedia.org]

    Tantalus (Greek , Tántalos) was a Greek mythological figure, most famous for his eternal punishment in Tartarus: to stand in a pool of water beneath a fruit tree with low branches, with the fruit ever eluding his grasp, and the water always receding before he could take a drink.

    So if you are going to have a conflict mineral, whose mines are rooted in human suffering, it might as well be the mineral source for the chemical element named after someone damned to an et

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