Coltan (or columbite-tantalite) is an ore composed of tantalum (Ta) and niobium (Nb). These metals are indispensable due to their heavy daily use. They are mainly present in miniaturized capacitors in mobile phones, computers and wireless devices.
In France, coltan is mainly used in the aeronautics and defence industry but also in the medical field due to its inert behaviour.
In France, there is no coltan mining producer, while its consumption is 86 tonnes per year. There is therefore a very strong dependence on foreign powers. In addition, coltan is subject to supply difficulties due to the fact that a small number of non-European countries hold stocks. Another important part comes from the artisanal, unsupervised and problematic exploitation of the African Great Lakes region (Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda). These factors represent high economic stakes and are sources of tension.
SUDMINE offers an alternative to this dependence through its ethical and responsible sourcing projects in France for tantalum and niobium. The humanitarian crisis and the containment due to COVID-19 have highlighted the limits of these dependencies on foreign nations. SUDMINE's coltan exploitation projects contribute to France's industrial independence.
The objective is to develop semi-industrial exploitation of alluvial deposits while creating an ethical, responsible and traceable coltan industry.
These farms are an alternative to the "blood coltan" from forced and unsupervised exploitation. These unethical operations, which are unethical from a human, economic and environmental point of view, finance the armed conflicts that affect the Democratic Republic of Congo in particular.