It’s not just diamonds associated with conflict in Africa. Coltan, short for columbite-tantalite (a blend of niobium — also called columbium — and tantalum minerals), is linked with the recent conflicts in the Congo that involved several African countries. The metallic ore, which is processed to separate out niobium and the very valuable tantalum (see Geotimes, August 2004), is believed to be smuggled out and sold to help finance the armed conflicts.
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Mineral resource of the month: niobium (columbium)