Apple: We Don’t Use Conflict Minerals, Our Tantalum Smelters Are Verified

The Cupertino company rolls out its 2014 Supplier Responsibility Report

By on February 13th, 2014 13:36 GMT

Apple today released its annual Supplier Responsibility Report, confirming that its suppliers are more ethical than ever, and that the company doesn’t use conflict minerals from Africa.

These so-called “conflict minerals” are rare earths that are being dug up mainly from African soil, where sometimes wars break out because of misunderstandings regarding their exploitation.

Conflict minerals include metals such as tantalum, tin, tungsten, and gold, all key materials used to make iPhones and iPads.

According to Apple’s report, “...some sources of these minerals are in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and adjoining countries, and their extraction may finance or benefit armed groups that are associated with human rights violations. That’s why these four metals are known as ‘conflict minerals’.”

However, Apple each year makes sure its suppliers don’t do business with these ill-famed groups.

Just last month the Cupertino giant confirmed that “all active, identified tantalum smelters in Apple’s supply chain were validated as conflict-free by third-party auditors, and we will continue to require all suppliers to use only verified tantalum sources.”

“We know supply chains fluctuate, and we’ll maintain ongoing monitoring of our suppliers’ smelters,” Apple says.

The company adds, “The ethical sourcing of minerals is an important part of our mission to ensure safe and fair working conditions.”

In its 2014 report, Apple is releasing (for the first time) a list of the smelters and refiners in its supply chain, complete with their verification status.

The company also cites Mark Viso on the matter. An iTSCi partner, Viso has this to say about Apple’s measures.

“The easy path is to disengage and run away from the complex minerals sourcing issues in the African Great Lakes region. The more important, courageous thing to do is to stay, work with the cooperative Rwandan and DRC governments, and directly contribute to meaningful change and a better world through industry leadership initiatives. We are pleased that Apple supports the latter, more remarkable path.”

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