Archive for October 30th, 2008

I learned a new word yesterday

Thursday, October 30th, 2008


I don’t recall ever hearing the word until it came up yesterday in a conversation with Gerard about the renewed fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).  I mentioned a news story I’d seen, and Gerard matter-of-factly stated that the fighting was in an area where he has family.

He then stated that a lot of the fighting is about coltan.

I managed to get from him that coltan is a mineral that is highly valued for use in electronics including cell phones.

I thumbed through my Canadian Oxford Dictionary but it didn’t have an entry for coltan.  Likewise I struck out with Webster Online.

So of course I tried Googling it, and I hit the jackpot.  Try it for yourself here.  Read some of the stories about why so many people are dying for the mineral wealth of the Congo including columbite-tantalite (coltan), and try to figure out why the people of that hurting nation are receiving so little benefit from their country’s abundant natural resources.

Even if like me you don’t fully understand the complexities of that country’s political situation, please take time to say a prayer for the Congolese people.  May they soon come to a place where coltan and the other natural resources of their country will contribute to building a prosperous and healthy democracy, not to funding more wars.

And may we in the rest of the world figure out a way to ensure that the coltan in our cellphones and Playstations doesn’t have blood on it.

Mining coltan

(Photo credit – Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting)