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Congo Accuses Apple of Using ‘Illegally Exploited’ Minerals for Gadgets

Congo Accuses Apple of Using ‘Illegally Exploited’ Minerals for Gadgets 

The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s government has accused Apple of utilising “illegally exploited” minerals that have been taken from the war-torn east of the nation in its products, according to lawyers for the African nation on Thursday.

Apple has received an official cease and desist notification from the DRC’s legal team, which was obtained by AFP. This effectively warns the tech giant that legal action may ensue if the claimed practice persists.

Apple is accused by the DR Congo’s Paris-based lawyers of buying minerals that are smuggled into neighbouring Rwanda, where they are processed and then “integrated into the global supply chain.”

When AFP contacted Apple, the company cited remarks made in its 2023 annual business report on the purported usage of “conflict minerals,” which are essential for a variety of high-tech goods.

“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 as of December 31, 2023, directly or indirectly financed or benefited armed groups in the DRC or an adjoining country,” it said.

Since regional conflicts in the 1990s, the mineral-rich Great Lakes region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been plagued by violence. In late 2021, tensions increased as rebels from the March 23 Movement (M23) started regaining large areas of territory.

Rwanda is accused by the DRC, the UN, and Western countries of arming rebel groups, such as M23, in an effort to seize control of the abundant mineral wealth in the region; Kigali refutes this claim.

The lawyers for the Democratic Republic of the Congo wrote, “Apple has sold technology made with minerals sourced from a region whose population is being devastated by grave human rights violations.”

The letter makes other allegations, including systemic corruption at locations that provide Apple with minerals, armed attacks, and sexual violence.

The DRC’s attorneys claimed that Macs, iPhones, and other Apple products are “tainted by the blood of the Congolese people.”

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