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Project January 23, 2024

Our Minerals, Your Rules



For the last two decades, minerals in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been at the centre of several global technological booms, from coltan found in most electronic devices, to cobalt, one of the key metals powering the electric vehicles revolution. Yet the wealth generated by the extraction of those resources has famously been associated with poor working conditions, armed violence, and child labor.

Western-led campaigns aimed at consumers creating a direct causal link between “our phones” and armed conflict in the DRC have led global institutions such as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the OECD, and most recently the EU to establish guidelines and procedures demanding that companies perform due diligence on their supply chain in an effort to stop so-called conflict minerals from entering the market.

Yet, over a decade since the inclusion of a “conflict minerals” clause in the U.S. Dodd-Frank Act and the creation of ITSCI, a traceability scheme that dominates the minerals sector in eastern DRC, little has changed for mining communities. Armed violence is still rampant with over a hundred armed groups operating in the region and the return of the M23 rebellion, working conditions have not improved in artisanal mines, child labor is still widespread, and the Congolese state is losing millions every year to trafficking.

“Our Minerals, Your Rules” explores the false premises of the conflict minerals narrative and how it has led to equally simplistic and misguided responses, criminalized poverty, and encouraged the elite capture of DRC resources. By centering their campaign on private actors and consumers, Western activists have inadvertently prevented necessary conversations around reparation, taxation, and social justice beyond the realm of private enterprise. This project proposes to ask new questions.


yellow halftone illustration of a logging truck holding logs


Rainforest Reporting

Rainforest Reporting


a yellow halftone illustration of a truck holding logs