“Nobody likes to think his or her iPhone was made from minerals derived from a country where warlords and mass rapists profit from the mines,” Lynnley Browning reports for Newsweek. “So a year ago, Apple made a bold claim: It had audited smelters in its supply chain and none of them used tantalum from war-torn regions in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).”

“While Apple acknowledged that it could not make the same claim for gold, tin and tungsten—three other important commodities essential to modern electronics but mined in war zones—the announcement about tantalum was an important step for human rights advocates who have long called for more transparency from international companies,” Browning reports. “But how can Apple be so sure?”

“Experts note the widespread smuggling of ore across porous borders in areas racked by conflict, with scarce paper trails for ore mined by villagers in small artisanal mines in countries where warlords control exports. Moreover, audit procedures at smelters in China and Russia are opaque and vulnerable to corruption,” Browning reports. “In June 2010, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs admitted the depth of the problem in a widely disseminated email sent to a reporter at Wired magazine: ‘Until someone invents a way to chemically trace minerals from the source mine, it’s a very difficult problem.'”

Read more in the full article here.

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Greenpeace praises Apple for reducing use of conflict minerals – February 13, 2014
Apple confirms suppliers use conflict-free minerals – February 13, 2014