Sneak peek into lives of Tantalum mine workers in Congo

In a small shack overlooking muddy pits hewn out of eastern Congo's rolling green hills, a government official puts a barcoded tag on a sack of ore rich in tantalum, a rare metal widely used in smartphones. This is part of the efforts to ensure that metals that are procured are 'clean' - free from child labour and corrupt links.

The power of tantalum

Mines in congo are rich in tantalum, a rare metal widely used in smartphones.

(Photograph:Reuters)

Fighting child labour and corruption with tech

With a handheld device linked to a server in the cloud, the agent scans the barcode, uploading data including the sealed bag's weight, when it was tagged, and by whom.

It's the latest initiative in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo to improve systems meant to show minerals entering global supply chains come from mines that don't use child labour or fund warlords and corrupt soldiers.

(Photograph:Reuters)

Hard at work

A miner works at the entrance of a shaft at the SMB coltan mine near the town of Rubaya in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

(Photograph:Reuters)

The labour of smartphone industry

A man holding a pickaxe watches fellow labourers working at an open shaft of the SMB coltan mine near the town of Rubaya in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

(Photograph:Reuters)

Digital system to increase efficiency

Whether the new digital approach to tracing metals such as tantalum and cobalt succeeds is of keen interest to companies, especially carmakers like Tesla General Motors and Ford, as regulators on both sides of the Atlantic put pressure on end-users to prove their supply chains are clean.

(Photograph:Reuters)

The kryptonite of technology

A man displays coltan rocks at the SMB mine near the town of Rubaya in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

(Photograph:Reuters)

No compromise with child labour

A woman walks past a sign warning against child labour at the SMB mine near the town of Rubaya in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

(Photograph:Reuters)