[Health] Fwd: Health OLPC - Congo - eeeBuntu

Seth Woodworth seth at laptop.org
Wed Sep 3 13:53:22 EDT 2008

As far as I know from talking with Richard, the caps on the XO are ceramic
anyway.  It's unlikely as far as rsmith can think of off of the top of his
head that there are any 'tant caps' in the XO.


On Wed, Sep 3, 2008 at 1:39 PM, Chris Leonard <cjlhomeaddress at gmail.com>wrote:

> On Mon, Sep 1, 2008 at 6:27 AM, Paul Commons <paulcommons at gmail.com>wrote:
>> Speaking of the Congo, does anyone know where OLPC's capacitors are made?
>> Since OLPC's low cost is critical to it's success, I'm a bit concerned on
>> whether the coltan for these capacitors is coming from the DRC.  Does anyone
>> involved know or can they find out?  I'd appreciate it, as the war in the
>> congo is being fueled by coltan demand.
> It is a matter of public record that Quanta is OLPC's manufacturing
> partner.
> http://www.quantatw.com/Quanta/english/product/qci_olpc.aspx
> As Quanta is one of (if not the) largest manufacturer(s) of laptop
> computers in the world, I would not be surprised if they sourced components
> from the lowest bidder, probably multiple vendors, making it hard to trace
> the provenance of the original input raw materials.  However, there has been
> a trend in component suppliers refusing to source any tantalum from Central
> Africa at all.
>  It is a fair point to raise that as a socially-responsible business
> partner, OLPC should consider taking stances on responsible sourcing with
> their vendors (as they have done so admirably on green issues), although I
> suspect OLPC is already leveraging their goodwill to a great extent to keep
> the costs down to a bare minimum.  A number of electronics manufacturers are
> apparently taking such stances (I think Sony, Nokia, Hitachi, etc.),
> largely in response to bad press and awareness of this issue is being raised
> by organizations like the Tantalum-Niobium International Study Center.
> http://www.tanb.org/index.html
> You can see a listing of major capacitor manufacturers on their site, some
> may have statements aout their tantalum sourcing poilcies on their
> web-sites.
> http://www.tanb.org/members/index.php?go=5-
> For example, from the UN's Coltan site:
> http://www.un.int/drcongo/war/coltan.htm
> "American-based Kemet, the world's largest maker of tantalum capacitors,
> has asked its suppliers to certify that their coltan ore does not come from
> Congo or bordering countries."
> This is easily enough done, because although coltan is a resource like
> "blood diamonds" that is being exploited to fuel wars in Africa; on the
> world-wide scale, it seems to be a fairly minor source (probably less than
> 1%) of the tantalum used in capacitors and so alternate sourcing from
> Australia as well as Southeast Asia and China is not overly challenging to
> the corporate bottom-line.  As a raw material with a long path to finished
> product, it is very difficult to certify tantalum as "conflict free" in the
> same way that the diamond cartels have attempted (assuming one believes
> those assurances in the first place).
> I'd have to speculate that OLPC while probably has relatively little
> leverage in this area (although being aware of the issue is important),
> raising such a point in conversation with their vendors about the supply
> chain would be not be out of line with their overall excellent position on
> other elements of socially responsible and green manufacturing.  That said,
> you have to understand that it is unlikely that unless vendors as far as two
> and three layers removed upstream have taken strong and public stances, it
> is unlikely that OLPC can even address this question to your satisfaction.
> cjl
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