Cleaning Up Conflict Minerals

Will a U.S. ban on minerals bought from warlords help or hurt Congo?

Jiro Ose—Redux

Children make up as much as 30% of the labor force in Congo's small-scale mines.

In early November, the U.N.'s human Development Report rolled off the presses with a catalog of disastrous statistics from failed countries. None ranked worse than the Democratic Republic of Congo, the huge swath of central Africa where the average person earns $280 a year and dies at 48. Shocking--particularly since Congo sits on vast reserves of minerals critical to producing billions of smart phones, DVD players and other devices every year.

The perverse mix of war and wealth in Congo is under new pressure from U.S. policymakers. After years of human-rights organizations' decrying the indifference of technology companies to the people...

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