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Lawyers representing Congo claim to have new evidence on Apple’s use of conflict minerals

International lawyers representing the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) said on Wednesday that they had new evidence from whistleblowers, which deepened concerns that Apple could be sourcing minerals from conflict areas in eastern Congo.

The Amsterdam & Partners LLP law firm has been investigating allegations that minerals mined in Congo by several companies and armed groups are being smuggled out through Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi.

Congo’s lawyers notified Apple CEO Tim Cook on April 22 about a series of concerns regarding its supply chain, and also wrote to Apple subsidiaries in France, demanding answers within three weeks.

“It is more urgent than ever that Apple provide real answers to the very serious questions we have raised, as we evaluate our legal options,” said Congo lawyer Robert Amsterdam.

“The absence of a response is an implicit admission that the questions we asked Apple were relevant,” added William Bourdon, another lawyer representing the country.

According to the DRC’s lawyers, Apple’s silence can be seen, at the very least, as a testament to the company’s embarrassment in providing accurate answers beyond the banal and predictable rhetoric of denial served up by Apple’s spokespersons four weeks ago.

Apple has said in the past that it does not directly buy, procure, or source primary minerals, and it has been auditing its suppliers for several years and publishing its findings.

In a report last year, Apple stated that 100% of identified smelters and refiners in the supply chain for all applicable Apple products manufactured in 2023 had participated in an independent third-party conflict minerals audit for tin, tantalum, tungsten (known as 3T minerals), and gold.

In 2021, US official data showed that Rwanda was providing 15% of the global supply of tantalum, despite the country producing only modest amounts of tantalum from its own mines.

Moreover, the US was buying more tantalum from Rwanda—36% of its total imports, the highest among global producers—compared to only 7% from the DRC.

Source: MINING.COM – Read More