What Is Coltan?

Coltan is the shortened name for the metal columbite-tantalite, which is made from a combination of niobium and tantalum. It is commonly used in the manufacture of tantalum capacitors for electronic devices for consumer products, such as computers and mobile phones.

Coltan is mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is commonly referred to as a conflict mineral because it is believed to be a strong motive for military and guerilla violence in the southern DRC, Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda. Coltan mining is also blamed for contributing to the endangerment of elephants and gorillas in the Kahuzi Biega National Park.