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DRC Accuses Apple Of Using illegally Sourced Minerals

ALLEGATIONS surfaced on Thursday as the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) accused tech behemoth Apple of incorporating ‘illegally exploited’ minerals from the country’s strife-torn eastern region into its products, revealed lawyers representing the African nation.

A report by AFP news agency said in a formal cease and desist notice dispatched to Apple, the DRC’s legal representatives cautioned the tech giant of potential legal repercussions should the alleged practice persist.

The accusations suggest that Apple is procuring minerals smuggled from the DRC into neighbouring Rwanda, where they are purportedly laundered and integrated into the global supply chain, as asserted by Paris-based lawyers acting on behalf of the DRC.


Responding to the claims, Apple referred to statements from its 2023 annual corporate report regarding the use of conflict minerals. ‘Based on our due diligence efforts… we found no reasonable basis for concluding that any of the smelters or refiners of 3TG (tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold) determined to be in our supply chain… directly or indirectly financed or benefited armed groups in the DRC or an adjoining country,’ the company stated.

The DRC’s mineral-rich Great Lakes region has long been mired in violence, with the resurgence of the March 23 Movement (M23) rebels adding to the instability. The DRC, along with the UN and Western nations, accuses Rwanda of backing rebel groups like M23 to control the region’s mineral wealth, an allegation Rwanda denies.

In response to the accusations, the DRC’s lawyers highlighted a litany of concerns, including sexual violence, armed attacks, and corruption at mineral sites supplying Apple. They asserted that Apple’s products, including Macs and iPhones, are ‘tainted by the blood of the Congolese people.’

The lawyers underscored Apple’s responsibility to ensure ethical mineral sourcing, citing deficiencies in the company’s reliance on the Tin Supply Chain Initiative (ITSCI). The ITSCI programme, designed to ensure the supply of conflict-free minerals, has been criticised for its shortcomings, including alleged contributions to laundering conflict minerals and child labour.

In a bid to hold Apple accountable, the DRC’s legal representatives issued a series of questions regarding the minerals used in Apple products, demanding a response within three weeks. They emphasised that all legal options are under consideration.

The unfolding controversy underscores broader concerns about the exploitation of mineral resources in conflict zones, with tech giants like Apple facing increasing scrutiny over their supply chain practices.

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