Date of Award

Spring 5-20-2023

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)


Dr. Meir Alkon, Ph. D.

Second Advisor

Caley Johnson, Ph.D.


Resource extraction has played an essential role in shaping human development and is an essential tool for technological improvement. However, resource extraction is also inherently exploitative of the environment, and therefore of people. This paper evaluates the relationship between Coltan, a mineral necessary for the creation of electronic capacitors, and the conflict it creates locally, regionally, and internationally through the case studies of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Venezuela. These case studies illustrate the relationship between export and consumption based countries and how this relationship keeps “developing” countries in a never ending cycle of development, and developed countries in a cycle of constant dependence. Given the complex relationship between export and consumer countries, the comparative case studies of the DRC and Venezuela help illuminate different layers of the resource curse especially in context of rare resources like coltan that are necessary for tech development and the green energy transition. Although policy will aid the transition to sustainable use of coltan, in its current iteration, coltan mining keeps society trapped in a cycle of conflict given that the export is necessary for funding developing countries while its use is necessary in technological development. Yet, the associated conflict creates instability at every level of society. Therefore, multi-prong policy with a focus on national investment and infrastructure development, supply-chain transparency, and global accountability is necessary.