The supply chain of some minerals, which are high in global demand due to their essential role in the electronics industry, funds armed groups and intensifies conflicts and human rights violations. The four most commonly mined "Conflict Minerals" (known as 3TGs, from their initials) are cassiterite (for tin), wolframite (for tungsten), coltan (for tantalum), and gold ore.
Due to the political, economic and security situation in the Great Lakes region of Africa, there is a link between armed conflicts and 3TG mining activities and supply chain. The exploitation of natural resources and the militarization of mining sites have led to serious human rights abuses and widespread illegal activities. Current regional and global regulatory systems have tried to devise a transparent, sustainable and responsible (conflict-free) trading environment of 3TG. However, ineffective institutions do not enforce them and foreign companies and the informal local Artisanal and Small-scale Mining (ASM) often do not adhere.
The abundance and extraction of 3TG in Africa creates a "Resource Curse," caused when a country has many natural resources but poor economic growth, development and infrastructure as its economy depends on the exploitation of these resources. This makes it difficult for the countries and region to economically diversify and develop a sustainable economy to help counter some of the highest inequalities in the world. 3TG extraction, refinement and transportation exacerbates conflict, disrupts the economy and perpetuates human rights violations inclusive of slave-like conditions, abundant sexual violence, and forced labor of people, in particular children. Also, the interest of new great powers in the resources exploitation in Africa, especially Russia and China, increased in recent years the strategic and geopolitical competition with Western powers on the continent, with analysts speaking about a "New Scramble for Africa".