Report: Rare Metal Fueled African “PlayStation War”

The PlayStation 2’s requirement for a rare metal in its manufacturing process helped fuel a bloody, decade-long conflict in Africa’s Democratic Republic of Congo, according to an investigative report on Toward Freedom.

The site alleges that demand for coltan by Sony and other personal electronics manufacturers led Rwandan troops and Western companies to exploit the people and mineral resources of Congo, with children often forced to work in mines.

Oona King, a former member of the British Parliament, told Toward Freedom:

Kids in Congo were being sent down mines to die so that kids in Europe and America could kill imaginary aliens in their living rooms. 

So, what is coltan? From the report:

After it is refined, coltan becomes a bluish-gray powder called tantalum… [which] has one significant use: to satisfy the West’s insatiable appetite for personal technology. Tantalum is used to make cell phones, laptops and other electronics made, for example, by SONY, a multi-billion dollar multinational based in Japan that manufactures the iconic PlayStation…

Researcher David Barouski commented:

[The] PlayStation 2 launch… was a big part of the huge increase in demand for coltan…  SONY and other companies like it, have the benefit of plausible deniability because the coltan ore trades hands so many times from when it is mined to when SONY gets a processed product, that a company often has no idea where the original coltan ore came from, and frankly don’t care to know. But statistical analysis shows it to be nearly inconceivable that SONY made all its PlayStations without using Congolese coltan.

A Sony rep told Toward Freedom that the company now takes steps to ensure that it does not use coltan illegally obtained from Congo in its manufacturing processes.

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  1. chippy says:

    "It’s scary to think what products of convenience we enjoy are built on the backs of the suffering."

    Not really. The cold hard truth of it is that economics requires someone to be on the bottome. In America there will always have to be someone making minimum wage in some shit-hole fast food place, retail store or factory. In third world countries there will always be someone getting ‘exploited’ in order to gather and refine resources for as little as possible. You shouldn’t feel guilty for being on the top, you should feel lucky.

    On another note, as it’s been mentioned here several times, Africa is a mess. The Messiah complex so common among the American left today would have us believe that if we all just band together and do something we can save the word. The reality is that you can never control other people’s behavior. It’s unfortunate that Africa seems to have an abundance of blood thirsty tyrants, but we can’t do anything about it; the people of Africa have to stand up for themselves.


  2. Austin_Lewis says:

    I’ve been, and that’s a pretty accurate description.

    You send them money, they buy guns.

    You send them food, the warlords fight over it while the average African starves.

    You send the UN, they kill the UN.

    You send AIDS medicine, they fight over that.

    They find out that something in their country is worth money, they fight over it.

    Africa is probably the greediest shithole in the world.

  3. Chaplain99 says:

    A little lacking in names and details?  How about "devoid of that which is necessary in making a fair and balanced accusation"?

  4. Chaplain99 says:

    Holy crap, man.  0_0

    I can sympathize with your frustration, but they ARE human.  And humans err.

    Anyway, nuking the shit outta Africa won’t do anything for our humanity, much less America’s global image right now.  I’m not gonna be the one who pushes the button.  Will you?

  5. Steve says:

    Gah, I can’t type 🙁 Sorry, for the typos. That should say "single out", "high capacity" and "very good"

    Anyways, saying that tantalum is used in the manufacture of these products is a bit misleading. Maybe Sony produces capacitors itself, but if not, the tantalum is used by capacitor manufacturers whose products are then bought by Sony and co. I also suggest to never buy television sets again…

  6. Bill says:

    Warning: Sarcasm ahead.

    You know, in a backwards kind of way, we may have a moral responsibility to buy these electronic gadgets seeing how people possibly died for them.  I mean we didn’t pay for it first then have someone go out and mine it so as to build what we ordered.  It was Sony et al who bought the stuff and used it to put it on shelves.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Yes, I’m angry at organisations for doing things like this, and no it is most certainly not limited to the electronic consumer market, from Food to Clothing this sort of thing happens 🙁

    However, that said, I will nod to the fact the report states that there is a long line between the Congo and Sony. What of the other sources where it is mined legally and people rely on the wages of mining it to survive? Should they also suffer? Because they would if Sony simply stopped making the Playstation because some of it’s coltan supply is beyond it’s control.

    I fully agree that something needs to be done about the exploitation that takes place in these countries, but the problem needs to be faced as more than one company, or even one type of company, and it needs to include the countries involved as well, Rwanda would hardly be a haven of human rights if the Playstation did not exist, if the children were not mining ore, they would be making trainers or the like, and THAT is the problem, not what they are doing, but the fact that child-labor is taking place in the first place, and that’s not the fault of a corporation alone, but of the social environment as a whole, on both sides of the water.

  8. Ghost Coins says:

    While I can concur with you on some of the more acerbic comments on the forum being rather tactless, your words carry a bit of heat as well.  The article aggressivly pushes the idea that the release of the Sony Playstation 2 platform was the sole driving factor in the increased price of tantalum, and by proxy coltan.

    There are few other electronic companies mentioned.  The mining companies that engaged in the actual practice of child labor, like Eagle Wings, have taken a rap on the head over the matter or gone belly up.  I would like to see more voracious placement of data (the article is a little lacking in names of ‘experts’ that point to the playstation 2 launch as a viable reason for the increase).   A comprehensive list of these companies would also be nice, but pointing fingers at the larger swath of companies does tend to lend validity and creedence moreso than appearing to pick one out of the lot (noted there is a full list on pages 87-90 of the RAID report).

    I would like to point out a statistical irony that has been addressed here and re-enforced by the numbers on the RAID report.  Those who would bang their shoes on the podium about how the western civilization is exploiting Africa, and doing grevious amounts of harm to the continent might enjoy taking note of of the fact that of the 111 companies that are charged in the RAID report as commiting some ill deed, 38 of them (or 34.2%; over 1/3) are based in either South Africa, Zimbabwe, or another South African nation.  Suddenly it appears not so much to be an issue of evil international corporations as the neighbors taking advantage of a rather nasty situation…also, Belgium shows up quite often.

    The launch of the Playstation 2 sold a little over 500,000 units in the first day, with roughly 1.3 million sold by Christmas of 2000, and 3 million reaching American shores prior to March 31rst 2001.  Now, I hate to pick on numbers, but 1.3 million and 3.1 million seem to be far, FAR below the "hundreds of millions" that would deem an increase in demand that would jack up the price in such a manner.  I would like to humbly suggest that the launch of the Sony Playstation 2 platform, while a major economic function and consumer of the spoken of elements, was not enough to realistically drive the price up to such an inflated level.  Hence, calling terrible series of events in a long and ongoing politico-racial malestrom "the playstation war" is erroneous, and singles out a manufactuer when there is blood on plenty of hands.

    To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; credible we must be truthful. Edward R. Murrow

  9. GRIZZAM PRIME says:

    Hmm. Okay, having thoroughly read through the story, I gotta say, it seems that the blame is quite misplaced. Instead of bitching at consumers or the companies that unknowingly use the blood stained resources, why not direct more anger at the actual exploiters? Actually, why haven’t there been more attemts by the more powerful nations to knock these bitches out? That way they could have the resources without having to pay these assholes so much money. I don’t know. I just hope that someday soon Africa’s (and every other third-world’s) workers rise up and slaughter these bastards. It’s clear that voting and peaceful protest won’t work over there.


    -If shit and bricks were candy and tits, we’d all be livin’ large. For information on games and psychology, look up: Jonathan Freedman(2002)Block & Crain(2007)Grand Theft Childhood, by Harvard Medical School researchers Larry Kutner and Cheryl Olson

  10. Helpless Kitten says:

    pointed out an important fact, coltan is not the material used, tantalum is.  And from what little information I’ve been able to gather the Congo is NOT one of the main sources of this material, Australia is.

    I do not object to people trying to draw attention to the plight of people in Africa, though I can only shrug and shake my head because I see no answers there.  My objection is to the unspoken implication that this is the ONLY source of this material and thus every piece of electronics you own might as well be dripping blood.  That’s not a good way to raise awareness for this issue, it only makes people angry and resentful.

  11. Verbinator ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    The referenced wikipedia article about coltan notes that the Congo supplies only 1% of the production of the mineral.  That’s not even enough to be a relevant statistic in blaming the world for Africans wanting to genocidally eliminate each other.

  12. Austin_Lewis says:

    So we should feel bad that the Africans stopped killing each other for NO reason long enough to make a profit, and then went back to killing each other without reason?

    That’s how business is conducted in Africa.  This is an everyday thing, and its not Sony’s job to investigate, its the job of the people who attain it firsthand.

  13. Verbinator ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    This is so typical of the politics of blame and guilt practiced by some. Discover a wrong then find out who you can blame and make to feel guilty for it (and by so doing, socially blackmail cash out of them for some feel-good cause). Yes, it’s terrible and tragic. But I blame the tribalistic xenophobic hatred that permeates much of the world, not a demand for a item.

  14. Anonymous says:

     These comment s are kinda suprising and a little disgusting. Usually Gamepolitics seems to me at least to be better than the internet at large, but not in this case. i mean most of the comments seem to be along the lines of ”How dare they say that video games are even remotely connected to anything bad!" Or " Their stereotyping us!", or ”i don’t have to feel bad because they would die anyway!" The article never says that it isn’t used in other materials, the playstation and gaming consoles are mentioned, yes but more as an example of how technology impacts this region in a unique way. So settle the fuck down people. 

  15. Loudspeaker says:

    Responding from their PCs, laptops, PDAs, and cell phones that require televisions, PCs, DVRs, etc. to view which all require this rare metal?

    Even your car has a computer in it made of this stuff which makes it hard for the anti-gaming community to take the high road on this.

    "Volume helps to get a point across but sharp teeth are better."

  16. Anonymous says:

    This is sincerely the most asinine kind of "anti-fanboyism" I have ever seen.

    Tantalum is used in all microelectronics.  This has nothing to do specifically with Sony.

    The story is a cold revelation about the seamy underbelly of the electronics industry.  But it has nothing to do with games.  This shoddy story isn’t even worthy of Slashdot.  It certainly should be beneath GamePolitics.


  17. Anonymous says:

    BTW, I don’t give a fuck about fucking Africans.  They’re already fucking insane and already probably would have died by hitting themselves with a fucking rock because Africa is so fucking miserable.

  18. Anonymous says:

    I actually feel sorry for Sony in all of this, because it is most likely (and this article, full of anti-capitalism and anti-gamer tones, admits this) that Sony has no idea. They buy the metals from a wholesaler, or a parts manufacturer. Until the subject is broached, nobody has a reason to think "Gee, I wonder if children DIED for these materials?"

    And now, suddenly, they’re being accused of indirectly starting a WAR. That’s worth a spit-take.

    Among all the facts being brought up here about Coltan availability and whatnot, it seems clear that this article has an anti-gaming prejudice. What’s up with this rhetoric? "Kids in Congo were being sent down mines to die so that kids in Europe and America could kill imaginary aliens in their living rooms" not "Children were being forced to do hard labor to provide metals for Sony’s products." You’re pointing the finger at children, who may not even make such purchase decisions, instead of the individuals forcing the labor, or importers who don’t care who they do business with. It’s very sloppy and unprofessional journalism. What kind of organization is this?

    The only people worthy of blame in this incident are the people who exploit others, and governments too impotent and corrupt to prevent such blatant abuse of their own people. I’m not going to pretend that my game consoles killed anybody.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I think most of us can agree that the consumer isn’t at fault for things like this, unless you look at it from some kind of utilitarian or deterministic standpoint maybe. If people are outraged by something like this, instead of not buying electronics they should try to publicize these issues and raise awareness.

    The ones at fault are the ones forcing children into labor.

  20. gregor42 says:

    I am very tired of the people at the top of the food chain taking the rap for what a bunch of scumbag middle-men do in the name of profiteering.

    Sony didn’t send those kids into a mine and neither did Nokia or any other manufacturer that uses this physical raw material to build a device.  The people running the mines did.

    Don’t boycott technical manufacturers – get THEM to boycott the Congo.  Or – if you have the means & want to be altruistic – then go there & buy the mine outright & run it better.

    Ooops – if you did that – you would be killed and ownership would revert to the state because you would be cast in the role of a "horrible Western investor who is there only to exploit the people" when in truth the people are already busily exploiting the living hell out of each other.

    When will the countries of the world start taking a hands-off policy on Africa and allow them to clean up their own messes?  Simple.  When there’s nothing left there to buy from them.  Handing money to the people in charge there for ANYTHING is just pouring proverbial gasoline onto a bushfire of human rights.

    Authority and Morality are diametrically opposed on that continent.  Sad by true.

  21. Decoy ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    "A perfect world would be nice, it’s also impossible."

    Too true. How about this though.

    The Utopian paradigm is only ever just a hope and a dream away. So be quiet and go back to sleep.

  22. GRIZZAM PRIME says:

    Damn. This is fucking brutal. I gotta say, I’m NOT shocked. I was aware that a lot of items have parts that come from third world hellholes that were probably produced by child workers. Yet I still bought a Playstation 2 and later a Xbox 360…damn…this is fucking brutal.

    -If shit and bricks were candy and tits, we’d all be livin’ large. For information on games and psychology, look up: Jonathan Freedman(2002)Block & Crain(2007)Grand Theft Childhood, by Harvard Medical School researchers Larry Kutner and Cheryl Olson

  23. Sai says:

    Wow that can make you feel like a pile of shit right there.

    It’s scary to think what products of convenience we enjoy are built on the backs of the suffering. Sad to say it’s not something that often crosses our minds, nor something our media, corporations and countries want us to think about.

    Also one would wonder if it’s a rare ore and it’s so important to electronics development wouldn’t someone have figured out how to create it synthetically by now?

  24. Anonymous says:

    This is very old news and nearly all companies that works with electronics uses Congolese coltan and they all deny it. It is also used on oleoducts. When children aren´t forced to work in the mines they are forced to join the army it is a no win situation.

  25. kurisu7885 (can't log in) says:

    Also, I do have a few electrnic devices I use in my home, my most recent being my new cell phone, and it’s not like I grinned evily when I got it thinking "I wonder how many kids died ot make this thing?" No, I need a communications device and it works, that’s all. Most people who use electronic devices shouldn’t feel guilty as there is NO way of knowing where exactly all of the materials in the device came from. It’s not liek a big tag is o nthe box saying "All material were purchased form legal sources."

    Consumers shouldn’t feel guilt ridden over where a material came from, as we don’y control the manufacturing directly.

  26. Questionmark says:

    I call BS.

    I find it really hard to believe that with ALL the miniture consumer electronic products we and the rest of the world use that the PS2 launch, or any SINGLE electronic launch has a significant effect on the numbers.

    Add in that there are hundreds of companies that probably use metal from the same sources and even blaming Sony is a bit ridiculous.

    I never expected to see sensationalist media on GP but I guess there’s a first (and hopefully last) time for everything.

    We as consumers need to decide, either we accept that our selfish desire for all of life’s luxuries doesn’t always come without a serious moral pricetag, or we stop buying the newest greatest toys. Pick your side.

    A perfect world would be nice, it’s also impossible.

  27. Decoy ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Actually you wouldn’t believe how much modern tech is seaping into the Amish comunity. More and more are using modern advances. Like a buggy with safety lights and a stero system setup that you would see at car shows. All being driven by a 19 year old Amish with an Iphone. Nice huuh. I think that was a report on the Daily Show or the Colbert Report.

  28. kurisu7885 (can't log in) says:

    I don’t mean to sound cold or selfish, but I can see the anti gamers latching onto this and not letting go. It won’t be about the children working in the mines, it will be about them getting certain games removed by having the console removed.

    WIlling ot bet Nintendo and Microsoft are also looking for new sources as are other companies.

  29. Timmay! says:

    If it wasn’t the rare metal, it would’ve been something else.  If it wasn’t Africa, it would’ve been some other country.  It’s not that I don’t care what happens, no matter what it’s over or where it is, exploitation of children is wrong, period, no exceptions.

    The problem is that the rest of the world just goes into shock for a bit when they hear about it, they stop buying whatever it is that’s in question, then everything kinda fades away, then some other commodity that sells for a crap load of money gets found someplace, and the children get exploited again.  Then there’s violence and wars and everything else that comes with that territory, then somebody finds out about it and tells the world, then world goes into shock over it, rinse, repeat.

  30. mogbert says:


    Why are they singleing out the PS2? Apparently this is used to make capacitors for a LOT of products:

    "…ranging widely from hearing aids and pacemakers, to airbags, GPS, ignition systems and anti-lock braking systems in automobiles, through to laptop computers, mobile phones, video game consoles, video cameras and digital cameras."
    So, no word on you CARS causing this bloody war? Shoot, looks like half your car has this stuff in it.

    So before they start trying the gaming guild trip, remember that this stuff is used in a lot of stuff, and if you don’t want to "support" it then I expect you to be moving to Ahmish country… but you better be walking.

  31. Anonymous says:

    I don’t know weather to agree or dissagree with this. But one thing is right. Fighting will continue if we buy coltan or not. Someone will find something to be greedy, envious or just plain angry over and start a war over it. It’s happened before in the past and will continue into the future. Either way though a child shouldn’t be taking the place of a grown man working in mines.

  32. chadachada(123) says:

    Frankly, this won’t affect my buying of anything. Sure, there’s a chance that the tantalum in some of my products is from an illegal source, but since less than 1% is "bad" and there’s no way of knowing which ones are bad, it’s silly to say a certain product shouldn’t be bought. Electronic companies buy the metal (or in some cases, the transistors/whatever) as cheap as possible, and of course it will happen that some of it will be bad.

    Here’s an example: My neighbor had the copper-power-thingys stolen from the side of his house. Odds are the copper is going to be sold to a vendor that buys copper to be remade into other things (makes money, duh). The stuff we buy with copper in it may be, in part, from my neighbors house! Not buying copper products just because of the fact that some of it is illegal, however, is silly.

  33. odc04r says:

    I have used Tantalum (Ta) during the course of my PHD, this has certainly made me think twice. Helps that Ta is the hardest metal I have tried to e-beam evaporate bar none.

  34. chadachada(123) says:

    As sad as it is, I agree completely. The only way for Africa to get better is if they all grow up. We can intervene all we want, but no real good is going to come of it…

    I’m warning you now, there are some generalizations coming up, and prove me wrong about something if you see an error.

    African couple has barely enough food for themselves.       So they have 4, 5, 6, 8 children.

    We give them food, so instead of a few thousand malnourished (sp?) people, there’s 10’s of thousands of starving people.

    I’m not one to bash on cultures, and would rarely call any culture backwards, but some things about some African cultures are stupid, some things stupider than any other ancient or present cultures I’ve seen

    Again, I’m sorry if I offend anyone or if there’s anything really wrong about my post, but I’m just going off of what I’ve heard and seen about Africa, I’ve never actually been there

  35. black manta says:

    I’m in agreement here with those who say that this report is little more than a guilt trip and a lot of the accusations are misplaced, and for a lot of the same reasons that others have said.  First of all, if you don’t buy it, someone else will.  Boycotting – which is essentialy what that piece recommends – in this case wouldn’t work.  Not only because of consumer ignorance, but because there are many other electronic devices that use the material in question.  I know someone who joined a group on Facebook called "Boycott Chinese Products."  The logic used there is the same as in this piece and it’s equally flawed.

    I also agree with the poster who said companies for the most part may not be fully aware of where the material used in the manufacture comes from.  Are they equally to blame?  Are the retailers like Best Buy or Target for selling it?  Am I to blame because I bought it, even though I wasn’t aware of it at the time?

    I’m sorry, but I refuse to beleive that either my PS2 or my Xbox 360 for that matter are "blood consoles."  And that I am a guilty party when in reality I am 10 or more steps removed from actual culpability.

  36. Mike ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Can’t say that I feel personally guilty or responsible for owning a PS2 or other electronic items. However, this is good information to have. While it may not seem to do much if one person says that will boycott an item for moral or ethical reasons (which most likely means you wouldn’t have much stuff these days), organized pressure on businesses can make some difference. If Sony changes its practice regarding the purchase of tantalum in fear of bad PR and lost business, so much the better. It’s this kind of knowledge that makes it possible for consumers to ask for choices and to find items like Fair Trade coffee or "dolphin safe" tuna.

    Oh, and if more powerful nations continually attempt to fix things for poorer nations, well there are plenty of examples where that might not always work out. Invading the Congo would fix nothing and create only new problems and would be morally suspect. The world is much more complex than "we have to spread Democracy and Capitalism", much to our dismay.

  37. Father Time says:

    I learned about this in my science class. It’s something called demographic transition. Third world countries with high death rates (most of africa for example) pretty much always have high birth rates because the children die and they need to children to help out. The only way the birth rate goes down (besides something drastic like mass sterelisation) is if the death rate takes a plunge. Technology and better medicine help make the death rate take a plunge but the way Africa is going…

    The theory (I think it’s a theory) goes that EVERY country either has gone through or will go through this process.

  38. Anonymous says:

     I’m not even slightly bothered by any of this, but not because I’m some cold, heartless internet ethug or anything like that. Africans will kill and enslave each other over anything. If we all stop buying personal technology, and buying bananas, or coffee, they will kill each other over bananas and coffee. You send them food aid and technology to improve their potable water, they will kill each other over that to. Why? Because Africa is f-ed up.

  39. Isa says:

    I wouldn’t imagine that the stuff coming from Ethiopia, Mozambique or even China or Brazil are necessarily ethically sourced…

  40. Anonymous says:

    only one percent of the worlds coltan comes from africa so its really unlikly that ull get products with coltan in it

  41. Anonymous says:

    Im gunna buy 3 ps2’s and 5 ipods – those buggers need the work to buy gruel. "Dumber @ss"

  42. Anonymous says:

    Let me guess, you’re a "Dumb @ss" and believed every word some biased journalist wrote. You did no research to see what this ore is, what it’s used for or what it’s made into. Did you bother to check to see who else might generate a market for this stuff?

    So who is to blame for dying children in Africa? Demand for product or those who supply it in such a fashion?

    The fact that you are using a computer to spew your insult convicts you as being one on the demand side. you are not just part of the problem – YOU are the problem – "DUMB @ss"

  43. Yo Boy says:

    Okay, i give up.  i will send my PS2 back to Congolese..Now i’ll go out and get a PS3…

  44. Gameliscious says:

    Less QQ more pew pew! Better buy Xbox360. Microsoft would never allow this type of behaviour!

  45. Anonymous says:

    You seem to have some smarts, however if you were a child in the Congo you would not think the same would you dumb @ss? We are all to blame.

  46. Anonymous says:


                                                                       The entire world knows what’s going on in Africa, do we care? Of course not or we would no longer allow this type of genocide to continue. We all made a promise after WWII to never let this kind of evil happen ever again weather it be Darfur or this latest tragedy out of the Congo. Now that we have entered the 21st century we have taken 2 steps back. If we continue to allow big business to dictate our future then we are destine for doom as a species. For big business only cares about financial growth and an economical society that benefits them. The cost of our children today and tomorrow are sadly hidden in a closet with a very austere future. We could kill each other for what ever senseless reason but the children should be protect. We are handing them a bleak future so why do we need to punish them for it as well? The excuse we use is turning our heads and saying it’s not our place. Let me ask this, whose place is it? We need to make Sony and other companies who use the excuse “we didn’t know” to be held accountable. They do enough product research to ensure the product sells why they can’t do a little research about where there supplies are coming from. It is time SONY and other companies that are smart enough to be multibillion dollar companies to stop playing dumb. They should be held accountable for there actions or the fate of mankind will be in the palm of the CEO’s. Think about the things we allow done unto our children and then ask, would the God of any faith that is righteous and good turn away from us in time of need? Then why do we allow it to happen to our children to whom the words Mother and Father are God in there eyes. Wake up world and get right before the human race is dammed and not just stupid!            


  47. Anonymous says:

    Get a clue noobs. The world is what it is. Anyone who bashes Sony for this, oh by the way I hate Sony for making horrible mmo’s, is a pure moron. Tantalum is used to manufacture many many things. Do you own anything made from aluminum????? How about a cell phone, TV set, Radio. I’m sure there is something on your car that utilized tantalum in some way. If you are so self righteous you need to get rid of everything you have and go live in a cave. And, by the way, don’t harm any animals! And while your at it stop exhaling carbon dioxide!


  48. Anonymous says:

    Until the governments of African nations clean up their act and create viable and enforcable laws to prevent this tragedy it will never end. You can blame the consumer all you want but in the end it is the GOVERNMENT of that nation that ALLOWS this to occur. When are we going to hold those people accountable for thses atrocities?? Don’t blame Sony, the consumer or anybody else for having a need or desire for a rare metal or product. The United States was just as bad about child labor and the absolute deplorable conditions that existed in factories all around this country during the industrial revolution. But ultimately we recognized that this could not happen and created laws to prevent it. Now, don’t tell me that it will not work, if we could do it so can they. The difference is that you want it to work, you want your country to be a better place for its citizens. Morally bankrupt governments will never make though, and sadly, many of the African nations are led by individuals that care only about their station in life and that of the few that have the resources and ability to influence them while the rest of the country wallows in abject poverty. This is the real tragedy here.

  49. oLiam0 says:

    Are you a looney toon? Cause thats some of the funniest shit I ever heard. This has no basis in fact and can be construed as slander.

  50. Lord_Fail666 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Why is the word war thrown around all the time Playstation War, Gang Wars, and The War on Terror. Just call it for what it is the act of killing to obtain something you don’t have but they do. if you look at human history you see it every where romans did it the crusadurs did it and everyone else in history did it. history is not recorded because some one dicided to attack some else no it was made because someone decided that they wanted something that someone else had and whould not give up so what did they do they attack them for it. END OF STORY FOLKS!!!!



    "What good is the customer if you have nothing that they want"-Unnamed wise man

  51. o.O says:

    Omg, they are using kids for over who know how meny years now to dig for gold, diamonds nad other metals and ores that are 99% used only for jewelry and aren useful to humans in any way. On the other hand PC’s Cell Phones, PDA’s are useful to people in everyday life. So dont flame SONY becouse SONY isn’t only company that uses coltan for their devices. So just slap some old bitch wearing 10 pounds of jewels, and dont waste time here.

  52. Mario says:

    im sorry, but it seems to me like we dont want any blame.  im a gamer myself, owning 2 pc’s 2 Ds’s a 360 gamecube original xbox, etc. but the blame for this is the entire chain of hands.the people who take the coltan from the children, the people higher up for not verifying the source.and it it also our fault, we being gamers, for closing our eyes and saying " Sony fix it."  We cannot afford to be children, or maybe we’ll be the ones dying in mines so others can have a higher standard of living.  the blame lies on the entire human race, because in reality, most of us will x off this pae and forget about this.  People have both angels and demons within them, but when you close your eyes and pretend nothing happensyour angels allow other peoples demons to  run rampant.  We gamers love to think, so maybe stop thinkking about how to beat Halo on legendary and instead how to save these kids.

  53. Anonymous says:

    As a few posters have already said, the use of this mineral spans a whole range of electronic products.  In fact, when I first heard of it half a decade ago, the things at the top of the list that used it were "Laptops" followed by "Cell Phones".  All and all, pointing at Sony seems rediculous.  It might have been the world’s favourite console for a time, but I’m pretty sure there were more laptops, cell phones and other portable electronics outselling it.  It is (or was) a bigger problem then they’re making out out to be, so why are they limiting it to the PS2?  Just so they could make their stupid "aliens" joke?

  54. Anonymous says:

    Why don’t you damn gamers stop killing imaginary aliens and real African children and read a book.

  55. rick says:

    Don’t blame this all on playstation, most to all electronics use coltan anyways.

    although, i was never a playstation fan so, blame it all on playstation! 

  56. Jarrod says:

    " Wars are not fueled by demand for electronics or oil or whatever is in demand"

    Yes they are. They are fueled by greed and money. And how do these people get money? By selling oil or some other commodity that someone somewhere will want for a large bit of money. Look at all the wars America has raging at the moment – they are even going to start one with Iran for their "weapons program" or some bullshit.

  57. Anonymous says:

    Oh yes, so the solution is to stop buying things.  Anything.  Come on, anything valuable will be contested, and if an unstable country happens to have resources of value, bad things will happen.  What is needed is to help stablilize war torn regions and, as Sony says they have done, try to limit the price of war/slave-labor/conflict produced commodities by segregating them from the global market. 


    Western consumerism is not to blame here, for once; this is just a product of global markets.  It’s unfair to paint a picture of rich kids playing games at the expense of poor African kids in mines.  Would you still think it wrong to buy Tantalum if it were being used for MRI machines? 

  58. Anonymous says:

    Just a pedantic point; Coltan is a mineral, not a metal. The wikipedia article states that it contains tantalum and niobium – tantalum being the metal used in electronics. Tantalum is available pretty much throughout the world, and isn’t exactly ‘rare’ – just the mineral is.

    Point being that this Coltan is not some key to electronics, it’s merely one way to get tantalum out of many. If this is a real issue (and it certainly appears so) why not prohibit purchase of coltan ore from the effected countires?

  59. dsa says:

    This is disgusting, i live in Africa and multimillion dollar companies are not the issue it’s the fucking governments installed in this continent.
    The problem is that institutions that make these reports do not understand how Africa works and most of them have never been in Africa in the first place. If they are so fucking charitable why don’t they do something with the root of the problem instead of going for the end. I have a PS3, PSP, Wii and 2 PC’s and i refuse to stop buying stuff because they tell me that they are fueling wars. Wars are not fueled by demand for electronics or oil or whatever is in demand, they are fueled by stupid people who wage them and by even stupider people who support and elect the former.

  60. Christophe Janson ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    People in africa dies all the time for our wellfare, nothing we can do about it either. Just pray that you don’t respawn there in your next life. Oh and bashing me won’t help em either if you wanna do something bout it do it, don’t go rambo with the keyboard at some random dude on the web, go there and help em out yourself.

  61. garrett says:

    Accoriding to wiki, in an episode of the Sarah Conner Chronicles, it’s mentioned that "the endoskeleton of the Termniator machines is made using alloys derived from Coltan to make them hardened to heat."

    We must stop this from happening! Quick! Everyone! Throw your PS2’s, Ipods, camaras, cars, PC’s, mobile phones, pacemakers, in a big pile o’ fire and… Oh, never mind. I forgot. You can’t stop the future from happening, only post-pone it.

  62. Anonymous says:

    I hope you realize that coltan is also used for cell phones, computers, and other daily electronic devices as a resister. Also, just in case you don’t know the numbers, PC and cell phones sales respectively dwarf those of only 150 million PS2s. So yeah if you really object that strongly, feel free to live without a cell phone or PC if you can…Just a thought

  63. Anonymous says:

    Just like we took the tobacco industries word that tobacco doesn’t kill anybody?  … your a republican, huh?

  64. Tom says:

    There isn’t any compelling reason to carry the guilt yourself.  The system that you’re using would have been made whether you purchased it or not.  The guilt rests firmly on Sony’s shoulders because they had to know that had this been common knowledge before the PS2 was released many consumers would have "opted out" of that generation.

  65. BlackIce says:

    Look, there’s no real point to feeling bad about something you can’t do anything about.

    ~You Could Be Mine, But You’re Way Out Of Line..~

  66. Cidas ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    This makes me feel disgusted for having a playstation 2, and inadverntantly funding such horrible acts. It sucks, this is very surprising. I guess we have to take Sony’s word that they are no longer involved in such a thing.

  67. sheppy says:

    Cidas, then I suggest you also get rid of your Cell Phone, laptop computers, car computers, gameboy, etc…

    This is a sought after material, period.  If it made it into a PS2, you can be damn sure it’s in your iPod as well.  And if you READ the article, they basically state they have no proof PS2 DOES have it, they just noted an increase in demand at the PS2 launch.


    Let’s put it this way, I, as a consumer, wish to purchase LEDs for some case modding.  So I go to Radio Shack and buy the LEDS.  Radioshack, meanwhile, buys their LEDs from a manufacturer from China.  This manufacturer meanwhile, buys their materials from a material distributor.  This material distributor buys the materials from mines.  If this material was mined in Rowanda, am I the asshole?  I didn’t know.  Is Radio Shack the evil people?  Once again, how could they know?  What about the manufacturer?  Do YOU, when purchasing things like fabric, question where the thread came from?  No, you buy the thread.  The distributer may have some idea since they are buying from the companies selling the stuff directly, now knowledge creeps in.  The company sellers know fully well where it came from, but do you think for a second they’d say "Yep, little black children mine this under gunpoint so we can pass the savings onto you."

    That doesn’t happen.  I highly doubt, even if some of this material made it’s way into some PS2s, Sony was actively researching this.  Just as I’m sure Motorola could give a slippery piegon fart about where the plastic they used comes from.

  68. Anonymous says:

    Think about it this way…  its not only PS2, its many pieces of personal electronics.  Saying you wouldn’t own a PS2 if you knew this would aslo mean you need to re-evaluate other purchases as well.  Personal electronics can range from you cell phone, to your PC, ipods all the way up the chain.  To say you wouldn’t have bought one, means you would have to not buy any of these products to be sure you didn’t contribute to this.

  69. Artifex says:

    There’s no evidence to support the article’s claims that Sony deliberately and knowingly used illegal coltan before (or after) 2003 in any of their products, let alone the PS2.

    Why on earth would you just take a single article’s word for it?

    If you really want to get upset, guess what rare metal Apple’s iPods contain. Then think about how many more iPods are out there than PS2s.

  70. Evergeek ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    don’t feel bad, it’s not strictly a Sony thing. that’s just a hot buzz word the author used to garner attention. yeah, blame Sony, that’ll stir up some interest. pretty lame. reading up on Coltan in Wikipedia, the stuff is used in EVERYTHING, inlcuding cell phones, pagers, DVD players, yadda yadda. probably xbox and wii, too. to blame the ps2 for the lion’s share of demand is just bs. sure, there’s like 150 million ps2 in the world, but what, a billion cell phones? a trillion dvd players? the whole blood thing is tragic, but it’s really fuel by modern technology in general and on a global scale. saying ps2 fueled a blood war is like saying Canadians should be blamed for harsh winters because the cold fronts come from there.

  71. Gar says:

    Good point!

    We DO know about this problem NOW,  however.

    Add to that the fact that the demand for these products is our "fault", and that we apparently can’t trust a company (generally speaking) to be sure their products are manufactured with ethics in mind, from source to end of lifecycle (one bit of proof of this fact: Electronic devices are super toxic in landfills and trash incinerators, and very few of the companies that sell us these products have any mechanism in place to take them back when we are done with them to insure that they are recycled, or disposed of properly. So for the most part, all these obsolete and toxic items end up in the ground or air, slowly poisoning us all, animals included…actually animals especially.)

    So, at this point, now that we know, it becomes our responsibility to either get rid of the demand for the products , and/or to make it known that we will not buy anything unless it is not killing, poisoning, or unfairly taking advantage of ANYONE, and will also not become a toxic burden to anyone when we are done with it.

    It’s a tall order, but the first step toward that goal is a change in conciousness. Some of the people reading this may disagree, but some agree, and that’s a start.

    Eventually, if we all take action to make sure we are not contributing to these companies , and if we continue to do so, they will get the message.

    In this case,  the adage "If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem." applies to us 1000%.

    It’s about power, really, and we are th only ones with it. It requires us to have the courage to act individually, though.

    If anyone wants to contact me to talk about what we CAN do to make these types of things better, I would love to start some kind of dialog. Gamers are typically intelligent people, lets tap into that intelligence. This affects all of us.

    This is my junky email addy, but once a dialog has been opened, I will give anyone that contacts me a better one to use. Maybe put "Gamer" in the subj line, so I know its not an ad for boner pills or anything, and send me an email at offerexpiressoon2000 (the at symbol) yahoo (the dot we all know and love) com.



  72. Jarrod says:

    "you’ve no idea how good or bad the original makers were being treated, and it doesn’t matter now that the product is made soo…."

    It does matter that the product has been made, because products (unlike the Industrial Boom) are now produced with demand in mind. Demand is created by you buying something, therefore by you buying this item you are proving to them that there is demand out there for the unethical product they are producing.

  73. chadachada(123) says:

    Thank you kind sir. I was trying to type that kind of analogy out but gave up. I agree with you wholeheartedly. You buy a shirt that says "made in China," you’ve no idea how good or bad the original makers were being treated, and it doesn’t matter now that the product is made soo….

  74. Anonymous says:

    yeah yeah, go say that to one of those kids… Go and explain them your sound philosophy, then please, please, think before saying anything.

  75. noah vawter says:



    one of the most important things to realize is that tantalum is only used for SMALL capacitors.

    I am a EE, with many years in the industry, teaching/grad student now, and for years I have taught students to avoid the use of tantalum capacitors in their designs for just this reason.  If we use electrolytic capacitors, for example, we avoid these social consequences.  the tradeoff is merely SIZE.  the playstation(s) could easily be an inch or two bigger here and there with no loss in gameplay.

    cellphones are more of a challenge, because people want them to be small.  I honestly don’t know how many tantalum capacitors are in an average cellphone, so I’m not as qualified to comment on them as with game consoles.

    BTW, i also teach beginning students to avoid using acrylic and especially aluminum whereever possible.  in at least 75% of the designs they make, wood and steel are completely sufficient. 

  76. Anonymous says:

    Do you own a cell phone, a TV, a car, or any other device that contains circuit boards? Well if so, then you shouldn’t have bought those either. The article is singling out Sony and the PS2, but in reality, the author even admits that this metal is used in the manufacture of many many electronics… not just Sony products. 

    So that computer you’re typing on? How far can are you going to take this?

  77. jndale says:

    I don’t know why they’re picking on Sony so much – by far the the biggest use of tantalum capacitors is for cellphone manufacturing. This is one of the reasons there’s so much pressure to recycle your cellphone. There isn’t that much tantalum left in the world, and it’s not widely distributed.

  78. Deciding to put forth my humble opinion says:

    Well you are just one apathetic son of a bitch. 

    I mean that in the kindest way possible. 

    I mean, I know a friend of mine will vote opposite of me in the coming election; does that mean we should both sit at home a drink beer instead? No, duty and privilege says we go out and vote, then drink beer. 

    So take that one of two ways, duty as a human being says you should get up and start trying to find ways to fix the problem; or privilege based on where you live, lets you sit at home a drink beer because it doesn’t matter to you. 

    With problems like these it takes one or a small few to get a ball rolling and keep it rolling; through time and work something might come of it.  For example, if a group of people with a similar connections, a very specific group of people known as Gamers, can rally together to get a man’s stolen xbox and other gear back to him, and have the extra time to harass the guy who did it all in a manner of a few days; why can’t that same community get together and work on an issue like this.  They may not make the direct change, but they can affect it inderectly. 

    So I’m preaching, however I do not have the connections to do anything about this. Again we are so far removed from the situation I might even forget about this new post in some time.  What to do about? I don’t know. I’m not intelligent enough to answer that question.  I’m trying to get an education in something that will allow me to hopefully make a change on some level if I so chose; then again I have to decide to do so. 

    All in all it comes down to how we each live blah blah.  Will any of the producers of electronic equipment have a Tony Stark moment and cease production of that which may cause ill will on earth? I doubt it. 

    So with out quoting someone more profound than I, just live well enough to sleep at night.  If you can do that, then I guess you are at peace with yourself so what should I care. 




    If apathy ever becomes a crime, I hope I do not get arrested for not caring when they take you away. 


  79. BlackIce says:

    The problem is that we have absolutely no alternative.

    ~You Could Be Mine, But You’re Way Out Of Line..~

  80. BlackIce says:

    Absolutely nothing. Just like in all Modern Warfare.

    ~You Could Be Mine, But You’re Way Out Of Line..~

  81. BlackIce says:

    Which, to a lesser extent, is what they do in the Middle East.

    ~You Could Be Mine, But You’re Way Out Of Line..~

  82. Anonymous says:

    You would have convinced your friends to stay the hell away from the know-it-all prick who won’t shut up about the PS2.

  83. jonwanker says:

    Wow. There’s a great attitude for you.

    "Why end slavery? The Blacks are just going to be oppressed and ghettoized anyways. They’re much better off picking cotton, at least then they’d have a roof and 3 square meals!"

    "Why let women work? They’re just going to be paid less and restricted by a glass ceiling anyways!"

    "Who cares about the environment? I’m going to be long dead by the time it goes to shit anyways!"

    "Why bother prosecuting murderers? It’s not going to bring back the dead!"


    All that is necessary for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing. — Edmund Burke.

  84. Austin_Lewis says:

    I don’t think you understand how business is conducted in Africa.  If they weren’t mining, they’d be using the same children to fight wars for whatever other resousrce was available, even if that meant fighting over a useless stretch of desert.


  85. jds says:

    With your bitch slap rappin’
    And your cocaine tongue
    You get nuthin’ done




    And it’s terrible about those kids. The people should rise up and unseat the assholes that are oppressing them. Strength in numbers and all…


    . . Wisdom begins in wonder. – Socrates . .

  86. Decoy ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Either way, it’s still a child. And no child should die because of either of those circumstances. Let alone in a mine shaft.

  87. BlackIce says:

    I don’t see a downside there either. A child killed by a car infront of you is a tradgedy. A child killed in an African war is a statistic.

    ~You Could Be Mine, But You’re Way Out Of Line..~

  88. Tom says:

    The reasonable adult consumer who wouldn’t do without a PS2 if the circumstances of its construction could have caused the death of a child in a cold, dark cave hundreds of feet underground is morally bankrupt.

  89. BlackIce says:

    If you hadn’t, someone else would have. It doesn’t make a difference.

    ~You Could Be Mine, But You’re Way Out Of Line..~

  90. Tom says:

    Can’t do anything about or choose to do nothing about?  Had this information been public before I bought a PS2 I would never have purchased one and I damn well would have convinced friends of mine to not purchase one either.

    I love gaming but I there is not a single game or game system that I need to have in my life.  I imagine that I’m not alone among adult consumers in that I would gladly have never purchased a PS2 if I knew what the potential ramifications were.

  91. Anonymous says:

    Considering the article about coltan, I really doubt it’s use on playstation is the reason that fuels conflict. There are WAY too many products that require tantalum, and all of those products sell a lot. So it’s a blame the game and gamers, once again.

  92. Anonymous says:

    Umm the article says that Coltan is used in a lot of consumer electronics, not just the playstation, or are they saying the majority was sold to sony?

  93. Tom says:

    No, it shouldn’t – but we need to be wary about being oversensitive.  This isn’t used as an attack on gaming, rather it’s used in as a literary technique in an effort to create more impact. 

  94. Jabrwock says:

    Won’t work, these people still think "Space Invaders" is still the most popular…

    — If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap…

  95. Austin_Lewis says:

    Your theory on any coltan from Rwanda being from the conflict has a few problems;

    1.  Coltan distributors don’t live in the war-torn areas.  South Africa, Rwanda, places with more comfort and slighlty higher intelligence as a whole are places where they sell it out of.  They ship it out of the war torn areas to an area of safety from which to sell it.  That doesn’t mean that they’re taking it from war-torn areas just because it’s shipped from Rwanda, South Africa, etc.  Because of this, by the third exchange of Coltan from hands to hands, its become near impossible to track.  Any tracking is pretty much guesswork at this point, unless hands #1 (The original purchaser of the Coltan from Congo or Rwandan General) is willing to come clean with helping to continue a mining operation that forces children to mine instead of fight wars.

    2.  Many companies shift things throughout, and will sell to their competitors at inflated prices if the demand is there.  For example (a very small scale one) Say I need 2 tons of Coltan, and have one, while my competitor has 8 tons to spare.  I will buy that 1 ton for at least Price and a Half, and that will help me to meet the demand from my buyers, who may need more for their new line of TV’s, or their new PS2 production, or whatever.  Now, there are a few possibilities here.  I could have purchased, unwittingly, laundered coltan that came from the Congo (it all looks the same once its out of the ground, trust me).  It would now be mixed in with my original ton, that came from, oh, Ethiopia or Canada.  I would have to track their original shipment, and figure out where it came from (near impossible even at this point). 

    When you say companies are doing it, do you fully understand what they are doing?  For the most part, they’re threatening to stop buying from Companies that don’t mine it from non-African nations, and if they buy from African Nations, they’re threatening to stop business if they suspect its from the Congo.  What this does to Africa is makes it a poorer continent, which, while not necessarily a bad thing, will lead to infighting over the Coltan that they can’t get rid of.


  96. Tom says:

    OK, this isn’t going anywhere but I’m going to mention a few more things.  There are three nations in Africa where coltan is produced – Ethiopia, Mozambique and the Congo.  Any coltan purchased from, as you suggest, Rwanda, would clearly be conflict coltan.  Figuring out where the coltan came from wouldn’t be difficult.

    Sony themselves wouldn’t have to be in charge of production from mining to PS2, rather they would have to either deal with suppliers who ensure that the coltan isn’t conflict coltan or purchase it from a source that gets it in, for example, Australia which is the largest supplier.  I’m not suggesting that Sony hire paramilitaries to track the entire process, that’s obviously completely idiotic.  The way these things usually work is that the company at the top requires that their suppliers meet certain requirements.

    Company A produces a high tech device and that device uses capacitors.  When they take bids for the contract to manufacture the high tech device they have, as part of the bid, the requirement that the capacitors come from a source that doesn’t use conflict coltan.  Company B bids for the contract and wins.  Huzzah!  Now, when they get the capacitors for the high tech device, they contract that out and when they take bids they, also, have a requirement that their capacitors aren’t built with tantalum that’s made from conflict coltan.  This goes on down the line until you get to the guy who produces the tantalum.  They’re contractually obligated to use coltan that doesn’t come from a conflict source.  OK, sure, they may be able to get a better deal from some shady Rwandan but they know that if they do, they’re fucked because they’ll risk losing a lucrative contract and future contracts.  THAT’S HOW THIS WORKS.  What I’m saying is that Sony and other companies need to start the process.  It’s not that complicated.

    I know this will work.  Do you know how I know this will work?  It’s quite simple – I know this will work because companies are already doing it.  That’s right, companies are already working to ensure that the coltan they use does not come from the Congo.  Sony is, in recent years, one of those companies. 

    So, to reiterate, I know that it is possible because it is being done.

    AKs last forever and they’re easy to build and maintain and there is a lot of ammo in Africa, but the amount that’s readily accessible to fighters in any given conflict region is limited.  It’s not as easy as killing the guy who has the ammo and taking it.  If it was, why the hell would anybody pay for it?  Funneling less "evil" western money into the region (and seriously, "evil" money?  Who the hell do you think I am, some dumbass hippy kid?) would substantially reduce their ability to access the tools of war.  Suggesting that "they’d get money to buy guns anyway" doesn’t make it OK for a company to trade with them.  As someone who clearly has ties to Africa, why wouldn’t you strive to do anything to reduce some of the killings even if only temporarily?

    And yes, again you’re right about the people who butchered others with machetes.  They, in fact, used whatever they had at hand including farming implements, rocks, sticks and their fists.  They use rape as a weapon on a regular basis and clearly I’m not suggest mass castration.  Yes, they are still going to fight but a dozen villagers with AKs is objectively more dangerous then a dozen villagers with machetes.

    In all honesty I do not understand the problem that people have with my assertion that I would not have purchased a PS2 if I had known that there was a chance that conflict coltan was involved in its production.  The same goes for other electronic devices.  It’s important enough to me that I will make the effort to ensure that the companies I buy electronics from are the companies that are already ensuring that their coltan comes from non-conflict regions.

  97. Austin_Lewis says:

    Because I have a very, very little tolerance for stupidity.  Honestly, I’ve seen enough stupidity in the last 3 months to last me till my dying day.

  98. Austin_Lewis says:

    "It’s not impossible, it just requires social responsibility and a little effort."

    Bullshit on that.  It would require Sony to figure out how to buy the coltan, where to buy it, how to turn it into Tantalum, and then to do with it what they already do.

    Four trips to Africa can cover the geopolitics of pretty much the whole fucking place.  It’s not that different from one conflict to the next.  And any trip to Africa is tiring.

    AK’s last for years, and there’s a steady supply of them still left over that haven’t been used yet.  You can go to Africa and find Ak’s for sale everywhere you turn.  There’s ammo there that is 40 years old, and somehow all the leftovers from all the Cold War battles and all the UN failures (and there’s a lot of fucking UN failures) end up in the hands of militants.  Would their capacity for violence be as immense without modern weapons?  I dunno, you should go to Rwanda and ask the guys who butchered others with machetes over the simple fact that their noses were smaller than their oppressor’s.  As for ammunition, the whole African continent is LOUSY with 7.62 rounds because NATO uses them (G3 and all its forms) and Russians used them (Aks and all the similar forms).  Its also not hard to get 7.62 ammo, especially when there’s a man down the street selling it who you could kill and take his 5000 rounds.  Would they still fund it without evil western dollars, pounds, and euros?  Yes, although they’d do it through theft rather than purchase. Or they’d get people with money and an axe to grind (Arab families, for example) to invest in their groups like one would invest in a stock. Aside from that,  I don’t think you understand quite how many billions of rounds of ammo are in Africa.

    Actually, the fact that less than 1% comes from the congo makes it hard to track.  It’s not sold from the Congo, its sold from Rwanda, South Africa, other nations, after it is mined and moved across the borders. That first step makes it extremely hard to track in the beginning.  After that, it passes through many hands before Sony even sees it, and so unless they hired their very own paramilitary force to watch the Rwandan border and all other bordering nations, there’s no way of knowing when the coltan is Congolese and when it actually comes from that country of origin.  By the way, private military groups for hire that work for companies outside of US operations tend to be very vicious and brutal people themselves, more given to a ‘fortunes of war’ attitude.  

    By the way, if you own diamond jewelry made between  1999 and 2008, chances are pretty good that you own a blood diamond. 

  99. GRIZZAM PRIME says:

    Why must this always degrade into insults?


    -If shit and bricks were candy and tits, we’d all be livin’ large. For information on games and psychology, look up: Jonathan Freedman(2002)Block & Crain(2007)Grand Theft Childhood, by Harvard Medical School researchers Larry Kutner and Cheryl Olson

  100. Tom says:

    Bullshit they can’t ensure they’re getting their products from non-conflict zones.  It’s not impossible, it just requires social responsibility and a little effort.

    Indeed, four trips to Africa covers the geopolitical situation on the entire continent.  Those must have been very long, tiring trips for you then.

    I hear you on the left over weapons from the cold war and the UN’s unfortunate habit of leaving gear behind.  Thing is, though, that shit, even the AKs, doesn’t last forever.  We keep funneling money in there and and they can keep buying new weapons and repairing old ones.  Seriously, do you think that their capacity for violence would be nearly as immense if they didn’t have modern weapons?  Also, there are a few key components of modern warfare that are consumable, like ammunition and fuel.  All those cold-war era guns aren’t going to be too useful without bullets and it’s tough to get bullets unless you pay for them.  But hey, if you feel better thinking that Western money doesn’t have any impact on the level of violence in Africa then knock yourself out.

    The truth of the matter, for me, is pretty simple.  I understand that there’s going to be violence in parts of the world.  It’s human nature.  If they want to fight then they can fight.  Here’s the thing, and this is important so pay attention, I don’t want my money going to arm their conflict.  If you don’t care that you’re helping to finance a war then that’s OK.  If you want to delude yourself into imagining that there’s nothing you can do then and therefore remove from yourself any responsibility then, again, have at it.  Personally I don’t accept that. 

    Companies can figure out where the materials that go into their products come from, whatever you might choose to believe.  As you said, it’s only 1% of the coltan that comes from the Congo.  Ensuring that suppliers don’t get any of their materials from that region wouldn’t be difficult.

    I wouldn’t have bought a PS2 when they came out if I had known that there was a possibility that a component came from a conflict area, just like I wouldn’t buy a conflict diamond.  Why does that piss you off so much?

  101. Austin_Lewis says:

    Alright, since you’re too stupid to figure this out, let me explain it easily.


    As for Africa, if they don’t have money, they hold food ransom for more weapons.  The money didn’t all come from the west anyway, a good portion of it came from USSR during the Cold war, as well as the US during the cold war.  If we didn’t buy their shit, they’d still have the guns that the UN leave there (they don’t bring their guns back from Africa, they are left there).  I’m sure that since you’ve been to Africa four times, you know better than me.  Oh wait, I was talking about myself.  They are a brutal and greedy group of people for the most part, and they are the ones holding the whole continent back from being able to come into the 21st century.  They fight not only over resources, but everything.  If no one bought from them, they’d still fight over cities just to say that they had more land, even if the land was barren.


     If you want to pretend that its possible to track those things, I suggest you take any product you own and try to find out exactly where all the parts in it came from.  You can’t, just like they can’t, so deal with it, go bitch about something else, and learn about the real world.

  102. Tom says:

    Seriously?  OK, less then 1% of all electronics is a lot of fucking electronics.  There’s something else that’s important to note, but you might want to slow down because here it gets complicated.  See, of all the materials coming out of the Congo (or any conflict area) 100% of it is being sold to the Western world and 100% of the money is going to violent regimes.

    It’s not Sony’s job to verify that?  Fuck that.  If you produce a product that you know has a component that comes from a conflict area then you need to know where the bits you’re getting are coming from.  Here’s something else to think about genius, the mineral isn’t that rare.  Like you said only 1% comes from the Congo so how hard could it be to get it from somewhere else?  Pretty god damned easy.  Want to know why these companies buy this shit from conflict regions?  Because it’s cheaper.  They’re getting a deal so they can pass the savings along to you or, more likely, pad their own profits.

    And you think that figuring out where these materials come from is like finding out how many people have used the money in your wallet?  Are you honestly being that stupid?  I seem to remember other posts where I thought you were reasonably intelligent but I must have been wrong.  Money is a means and is created to be traded so of-fucking-course it’s going to be passed through many, many hands.  That’s why we have money.  Metals and minerals are an ends that are used for a purpose and go through a finite number of hands.  If you give a shit about your fellow man then yes, you can find out where the materials came from.

    To dismiss conflict in Africa as, essentially, a bunch of uncivilized tribal morons battling it out is not only fucking stupid but it’s naive.  Where do you think these people get the money to engage in these massive, violent wars?  They don’t pull it out of their asses, they get it from the West.  Why do they keep fighting?  Sure, tribal history plays a part but when it comes down to it these wars are over resources and money.  They sell the resources to pay for ever more extravagent ways to kill each other so they can get more resources.  You want to support that?  You think that it’s OK for companies you do business with to give those people money?  You think it’s "too far removed" and therefore "not our problem?"

    If it costs Sony, or any company, more money to ensure that the materials they’re using aren’t coming from conflict regions and they therefore need to tack a few bucks onto the cost of my PS2 or cell phone or car or TV or whatever else you mentioned then I don’t have a problem with that because a HUMAN LIFE is more valuable to me then my PS2 or getting a good deal on a cell phone.  If you want to pretend that everything’s OK because it would be too difficult to do anything about it and thereby feel good about yourself then be my guest.

  103. Austin_Lewis says:

    Tom, what you should be disgusted with is your own stupidity.

    >1% was taken from the Congo.  Now, distribute that over EVERY ELECTRONIC DEVICE IN THE FUCKING WORLD, and you’ll realize that chances are equally good your phone, computer, car, and TV have this rare mineral from the Congo.  So what are you going to do, reject technology because you might have a metal attained from Child labor in the Congo?  Hate to break it to you, but you’re extremely naive; most countries in Africa subsist of the labor of their children.  Diamonds from Africa, Metals from Africa, and wars in Africa, all done predominantly with children. 

    It’s not Sony’s job to have to verify that its not from the Congo when they don’t get the metal firsthand; its the distributors’ job.  It would be impossible to figure out where the metal came from, just like its impossible to take that pound, dollar, euro, yen, whatever you use, and figure out who had it 10 hands before it touched yours. 



  104. Anonymous says:

    there is no data saying that sony knew that their coltan came from the congo. you own a pc, dont you? dosn’t that, as well as almost all electronics in your home, contain coltran? there is absolutely no way to live in the us today without using a resource mined in a third world country. do you know where the oil in your car/the public transport you ride on comes from, exactly? do you know where the paper in the book on your desk came from?  do you know where the gold in you sound system came from?

  105. Anonymous says:

    For clarity : I am not arguing that the people who use that argument have reached the wrong conclusion. I’m just saying that the argument they used is juvinile and naive. 

    I was simply expressing suprise that no one had called them on it yet.




  106. Anonymous says:

    You’re putting words into my mouth. 

    I did not say that we should stop buying Playstations and other electronics. I fully intend to keep buying them myself.

    I just pointed out that the most common argument being used here is complete hogwash, and it’s supprising how many people don’t realise that.  You might as well say "It’s OK to buy stuff because of magical pixies." for all the sense it makes.



  107. Austin_Lewis says:

    You know what, you’re right! But since other companies probably attained the same metal from the same place, let’s all just stop buying anything electronic until we lag behind the world in technology, all because there’s a miniscule chance it came from an African country that, had it not been producing this metal, would probably be busy killing each other.  Children are used for everything in Africa, and you not buying a PS2 won’t make a difference.

    I find it hilarious that the most naive people came on here to call others naive.

  108. Anonymous says:

    I’m sort of supprised by the number of people who are essentialy arguing "It’s already on the shelf, so I might as well buy it, regardless of whatever evil went into its manufacture."

    What a juvinile and naive way to rationalize things.

    At any given time a certain number of goods need to be available for sale.  Any time you buy a consumer item you are causing another item to be manufactured to replace it.  The only exception is products that are being end-of-lifed, and even then you’re adding to the sales expectations for the next version.

    It doesn’t take a super brain to figure out that if people stopped buying something, the manufacturer would stop manufacturing it.

    Unless you’re salvaging your Playstations (and your ipods, phones, GPS, etc) from a junkyard then you can not logicaly excuse yourself by saying "It’s already manufactured. Doesn’t matter if I buy it.".


  109. Anonymous says:

    How cute. Apparently they support the UN small arms eradication program which has funded various genocidal massacres throughout the region carried out under the guise of disarming the civilian population (which makes them even easier to kill later..), but those playstations are just eeeeevil!!

    Stupid hippies.

  110. Tom says:

    I’m not saying to boycott what was done in the past.  What I said is that if I knew when I bought my PS2 that there was a chance, even a 1% chance, that a child died to create it I would never have purchased the thing because I can do without a PS2.  I believed that any reasonable person would do the same, but apparantly I’m wrong about that.

    I’m honestly disgusted by the comments on this post.  The selfish arrogance, the naivitee, the tunnel vision, the corporate whoring and fanboyism – it’s pathetic.

  111. Chaplain99 says:

    And in response to Tom’s post earlier (this is late, sorry!):

    We should be focusing on changing the present, not boycotting what was done in the past.  Again, boycotting doesn’t work anymore, as there is no limit to the number of consumers that will pay for a product around the world.  Active change is needed to undermine the ‘corrupt’ system that is prevalent in the Congo.  Let’s focus less on who was in the right, and a little more on where we go from here.

  112. TBoneTony ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Well, from this article, it seems to imply that SONY was responsible…



    But the real truth was that SONY did not know where the mettal came from, so it is the African company’s fault for exploiting children so they could sell the mettal to SONY, not SONY’s fault at all.


    The fault of SONY is not realising where the mettal came from, also that can be the same for any other electronics company.


  113. Laughing Man says:

    Gee Mr King,  I’ve never been blamed for the worlds problems before.  Get in line.

    Reading 0 on my give-a-fuck-o-meter. 

  114. Keegs79 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

     Sounds like someone has an agenda. Anyone who would purely believe this crap without question are naive.

  115. thefremen says:

    Also, anyone who has ever smoked Heroin supported 9/11. (poppy farms in Taliban controlled and current Afghanistan lol) 

  116. T5 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I should hope the ECA defends my right to by "blood" consoles, if not think of the skyrocketing costs to me the consumer

  117. Steve says:

    Mhh, it seems very silly to single Sony or the Playstation 2 in this.

    Tantalum is used to make capicators that are small, yet have a relatively highy capacity, combined with very  frequency characteristics. They are used in electronic devices in general, not just computers.

  118. Azhrarn says:

    Exactly, and according to the stuff’s Wiki page most of it comes out of Australia.

    And don’t blame the consumer (ie yourself), but blame the governments that went to war over the stuff.
    People have started using more and more personal electronics since well before the release of the PS2 that all required the stuff for their capacitors.

    On a different note, you could identify where the material comes from by checking the isotopes it contains, since materials from different regions of the globe contain isotopes of various materials in different amounts. Its not a cheap method, but its doable. Not sure if isotope identification is used for anything else, but i do think it is used.

  119. Jabrwock says:

    Tracking the source could be hard, considering most of it is smuggled, and it’s not like you can mark them like diamonds. If only they could find it elsewhere outside of the corrupt African nations surrounding the Congo, then you could at least have "legit" suppliers.

    That was half the advertising scheme with Canadian diamonds, "Guaranteed to be 100% conflict-free".

    — If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap…

  120. Anonymous says:

    OK, I give up.  Let’s just start a full-fledged war on people who persist with the sterotype that gaming consists of killing "imaginary" aliens.

  121. Anonymous says:

     No war is ever fought for purely idealogical or ”noble” reasons. There is always a ulterior motive.

  122. Tom ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    This is definitely information that should be reported on with more frequency.  We all know about blood diamonds and other precious stones that come from conflict areas but many people, myself included, don’t think about the myriad of minerals that go into our everyday products and where they come from.

    Considering the real world ramifications of our obsession with not just technology but stuff in general may make people more responsible consumers – but then, that could just be a pipe dream on my part.

  123. Chaplain99 says:

    See?  I KNEW there was a reason why I felt so good getting a GameCube instead of a PS2!  🙂


    Seriously, though, this whole "Sony kills children with its ‘insatiable’ thirst for coltan" thing seems tantalyzingly (did I spell that correctly?) transparent.  Let’s think for a moment: Sony says that it’ll take steps to ensure that it doesn’t buy illegally-obtained coltan for use in its PS2s?  Psh.  Sony isn’t going to put that at the top of its priority list no matter HOW much bickering human rights activists do.  Sorry, guys, but that’s the way of the world.

    This smells of shock-effect to me, meaning that this whole human-rights crusade against Sony and its ilk is merely a way of bringing the world’s attention to the suffering in the Congo.  Is it effective?  Maybe.  Is it right?  Depends on your information.  How do you know that Sony was involved in the ‘war’ in the Congo?  Seems like circular reasoning, doesn’t it?  It’s like taking a piece of candy, putting it in a baby’s hand, and then declaring war on the kid’s parents because you gave the kid candy.  Sony isn’t at fault here, the government in the Congo is, and the sooner human-rights groups turn their attention from finger-pointing and rabble-rousing to positive change for the future, the sooner events like Darfur and the Congo can end.  Education is the key.

    I hope you all were able to follow my train of thought there.  Sorry if I lost you. >_<

  124. Anonymous says:

    Fun fact, countrys that have names stateing they are the peoples or democratic tend not to be, the fact that this happened in Congo, isn’t surpriseing

  125. Hevach ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I missed the part where Sony deliberately sought out sources of coltan from child labor camps. Or else you missed the part where they stopped obtaining it from such sources when it came to their attention.

    A PS2 is a good bit larger than an iPod. 140 million ipods probably accounts for less resources than 127 million PS2s.

  126. chadachada(123) says:

    But what happens when some of the Coltan you buy ends up being from Africa? It’s already mined, where is it gonna go if no one uses it?

  127. Adamas Draconis says:

    Actually thats a similar process they use to identify "Conflict" or "Blood" diamonds

    Hunting the shadows of the troubled dreams.

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