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PS2 Sparks African War In The Congo?

Sure, Sony has sold 140 million PS2s worldwide over the past 9 years, but at what price?

If you're at all familiar with the film, "Blood Diamond," this situation is eerily similar... According to Yahoo! Games and an activist site called Toward Freedom, the need for a particular component in the PlayStation 2 once caused a "brutal conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo." Do you know what coltan is? It's an unrefined metallic ore which, when ground into a powder called tantalum, becomes an extraordinarily popular material used in all sorts of electronic equipment. They use it in cell phones, computers, and yes, even video game consoles like the PS2. Now, when Sony started to mass produce their system, they obviously needed a whole lot of coltan, and when that happened, all hell apparently broke loose.

The new and exhausting search for the material set Rwandan military groups and western mining companies into action, and because they needed so much, they allegedly forced "prisoners-of-war and even children" to work down in the coltan mines. Ex-British Parliament Member Oona King said- "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." Well, if that doesn't make you feel guilty, backing over your neighbor's kitten with your car probably won't faze you, either. When Sony required more tantalum to meet consumer demand, the price of the powder shot from $49/pound to $275/pound, which of course resulted in a widespread fevered search of the Congolese hills.

Researcher David Barouski had this to add:

"Sony's PlayStation 2 launch...was a big part of the huge increase in demand for coltan that began in early 1999," he explained. "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."

If you're wondering whether or not this may still be going on, it may be, but it won't have much to do with Sony's PS3. Sony has since said they won't use any tantalum from the Congo, and they further state that all current PS3s, PSPs and even PS2s do not use Congolese tantalum; they simply found the material in other countries. It's very difficult to tell what raw materials are used in the pieces of machinery we use every day, so it hardly makes sense to say Sony is the only corporation on earth that may have incited civil unrest for production purposes. It's an intriguing story, to be sure, and just goes to show how far removed from certain realities we really are...

7/25/2008 Ben Dutka

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Comments (13 posts)

NoMoreWar
Friday, July 25, 2008 @ 11:03:06 AM
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wow. this is one of those scary ass things that you just dont know about. you could learn horrible news like this relating to just about any product you own 5-10 years after you really used it. all i can do is look back and say "wow"

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AscientDire
Friday, July 25, 2008 @ 11:54:28 AM
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This reminds me of the ecological statistic that I learned in my ecology class that states that if all people lived like americans (with current resource usage), K (carrying capacity) for Earth would only be like 2.4 billion people...scary stuff!!!

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Dustinwp
Friday, July 25, 2008 @ 12:23:05 PM
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I'm sure cell phones play a huge role in this problem.To call out one company and not the others is ignorant.Yahoo called it the playstation wars thats a bunch of BS.The only reason they called it that is so they got people to look at their article.If your going to address this issue do it properly by naming the products this material is used in and not singling out one company just to start a witch hunt.

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Troy Powers
Friday, July 25, 2008 @ 12:35:56 PM
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I agree with Evilincarnate. That original yahoo article was just irresponsible journalism. It uses Playstation in the title, but goes on to say that this coltan is used in parts for the PS2, cellphones, computers, and numerous other electronic gadgets. You could just as well swap Playstation for Xbox, or Nokia, or Dell. That's just extremely shoddy journalism. This should have been in the National Inquirer.

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Qubex
Friday, July 25, 2008 @ 8:06:39 PM

So do I...

Q!

"all RoAdS LeAd ToO HoMe"

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whooka
Friday, July 25, 2008 @ 12:44:40 PM
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Sounds like something Microsoft planted in the news....

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ZubraZap
Friday, July 25, 2008 @ 2:11:44 PM
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No one forced them to fight over the material, its the political climate that region has always faced that leads these people to violence..

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ThePoetRazel
Friday, July 25, 2008 @ 2:26:11 PM
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Oona King voted for the War in Iraq. She sent British troops and bombs to slaughter countless people in Iraq, including children.
What a hypocrite.

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Nightshade386
Friday, July 25, 2008 @ 10:47:17 PM

Everytime a bomb goes off in Iraq, somebody dies for our right to start our cars in the morning. Some of them are children. Most of our troops are barely adults themselves. Not much of a difference at all.

Hypocricy like this drives me absolutely batty.

Last edited by Nightshade386 on 7/25/2008 10:49:00 PM

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The_Chimeran
Friday, July 25, 2008 @ 5:38:12 PM
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Yeah i read this article yesterday and the only reason being that it had playstation in the title. But like everyone else said, it's not just sony it's everyone. This isn't a surprise that this is happening but really does make you feel guilty that the "imaginary aliens" take you away from reality. But then again i'm more pissed at the invaders of Africa who either still treat it like crap or just left the country to fend for itself, anywayz off topic.

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Pavex
Tuesday, July 29, 2008 @ 1:36:46 AM
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Everytime a bomb goes off in Iraq, somebody dies for our right to start our cars in the morning???

THAT'S plain drivel!!! when one of our "young" ones dies in iraq.....MORE blood is on bushes hands!! he invaded iraq for the OIL

Last edited by Pavex on 7/29/2008 1:43:10 AM

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cr67
Tuesday, July 29, 2008 @ 9:44:25 AM
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If Bush invaded Iraq for the "oil", we wouldn't be paying 4.50 a gal for gas right now! Think before you spout off nonsense like that.

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shockaz
Monday, August 04, 2008 @ 10:46:44 AM

man i hope gas prices go down soon

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