Apple breaks ties with 12 suppliers over concerns about 'conflict minerals' violations

The refineries and smelters were dropped because they refused to confirm their ore wasn't being used to finance armed conflicts, Apple says.

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Dan Avery
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conflict minerals apple

Miners in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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Apple has ended its relationship with 12 refineries and smelting companies over concerns the ore they sold was being used to finance armed conflicts.

The tech giant on Wednesday filed the results of its latest "conflict mineral" audit with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. The third-party report indicated that a dozen companies that mine tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold (known as 3TG) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and neighboring countries were all released from their contracts because they refused to participate in the audit or "did not otherwise meet our requirements for the responsible sourcing of minerals." 

Even as tech companies grapple with supply-chain issues and chip shortages, Apple says its supplier code of conduct requires partner companies to identify a broad range of risks, including "social, environmental, and human rights risks."


Apple says 100% of its gold, tin, tantalum and tungsten refineries and smelters abide by its supplier code of conduct.

"At Apple, our respect for human rights begins with our commitment to treating everyone with dignity and respect," the filing reads. "Apple's Board of Directors has adopted a human rights policy ... that governs how we treat everyone, including our customers, employees, business partners and people at every level of our supply chain."

The company said it has targeted tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold among 14 materials prioritized in its initial efforts at limiting so-called "blood minerals." Since 2009, Apple indicated, it has broken ties with 163 3TG smelters and refiners over violations.
According to the new filings, 2021 represents the seventh straight year that 100% of 3TG smelters and refiners in Apple's supply chain met the standards of its audit.