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Unfair Connections? Tantalum for the high-tech-industries and the consequences of its extraction in Bolivia

Autor: Radhuber, Isabella; Huamán, Rodríguez, Gloría

The growing demand for natural resources has put the subject of raw materials back onto the international political agenda. On the one hand, increased competition over access to and control of these resources has led a number of industrialized countries as well as the European Union to formulate specific raw material strategies (Küblböck 2013). On the other hand, some resource-rich countries have taken measures to increase earnings from the extractive sector in order to promote the development of their own local and national economies. On the international level, a number of initiatives has arisen to increase transparency and accountability in the sector (Küblböck/Pinter 2015).
At the same time, criticism of and resistance to mining projects continues to increase in many regions. In this context, most notably in Latin America, a debate concerning social and economic alternatives to resource extraction has developed in the last decade (Heinrich Böll Stiftung 2015, Brand/Dietz 2014). In 38 countries worldwide the extractive sector is of such high importance that it represents more than 25% of export revenues, or at least 20% of the gross domestic product (GDP). 31 of these countries fall into the two lowest income groups (“low income country” or “least developed country”).



Introduction 4

Chapter 1:
Tantalum 7
1.1 Properties, usage and significance 8
1.2 Tantalum deposits 9
1.3 Volatility of prices 10
1.4 The value chain and major companies 12
1.5 The limited informative value of trade statistics 13

Chapter 2:
Tantalum mining in Bolivia 15
2.1 The socio-economic context 16
2.2 Illegal mining in Bolivia 22
2.3 Tantalum from Eastern Bolivia 23
2.4 Tantalum exports and profits 27
2.5 Consequences for the environment, society and human rights 28
2.6 Child labor

31 Chapter 3:
International regulatory initiatives 33
3.1 Initiatives on conflict minerals 34
3.2 Initiatives on artisanal and small-scale mining 35
3.3 The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development 36