House of Cards star Robin Wright has produced a film as part of the #StandWithCongo campaign to stop American tech companies from taking the Congo’s mineral resources. The actor says the tech industry is inadvertently funding militia groups and fueling conflict in the region.
Large tech companies use “conflict minerals” mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo to make electronic devices, Wright says in the film. She says the companies buy such minerals, like cobalt, coltan and tin, from BVI companies that not only use child labor but also use the profits of their sales to fund militias in the region. Wright produced and narrated a new film, When Elephants Fight, to shine a light on the issue. The film will play at 50 university campuses across the U.S.
“We are using these devices all day, every day, for our convenience and it’s basically perpetuating a war. I find it unacceptable that as consumers we allow this to go on,” the actor told The Guardian.
An Amnesty International investigation found that cobalt used by Apple and Microsoft, among other brands, could be traced back to mining companies that send children as young as 7 into dangerous mines. The mining companies are also linked to militia groups. The Enough Project estimates that the DRC has lost over $5 billion from corrupt mining contracts since 2009.
Apple and Microsoft both say they have worked to end the use of conflict minerals, including through audits of their suppliers. Microsoft recently received a perfect score on a test issued to 1,262 companies on their use of conflict minerals. Apple says it has taken steps to stop the trade as well. “Much works remains to be done,” Apple said in a recent report.