Bangka Tin Mining Site. Tin is used for soldering in electronics. Indium-tin oxide is applied to smartphone screens as a thin, transparent and conductive coating that gives touchscreen functionality. The seas surrounding Indonesia’s Bangka and Belitung Islands supplies about a third of the world’s supply. However, large-scale dredging of the seabed for the tin-rich sand has destroyed the precious coral ecosystem while the decline of the fishing industry has led to economic and social problems. Photo source: ©© M. Kelley
Nearly five billion people worldwide will use a smartphone by 2020. Each device is made up of numerous precious metals and many of the key technological features wouldn’t be possible without them.
Mining these metals is a vital activity that underpins the modern global economy. But the environmental cost can be enormous and is probably far greater than you realize…