The DRC may sue Apple over new conflict mineral evidence

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May 23, 2024
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2 min read
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  • The Democratic Republic of Congo's lawyers have announced the discovery of new evidence, a month after accusing Apple of using "illegally exploited" minerals from the country's conflict-ridden east in its products. 
  • According to Amsterdam & Partners LLP, several whistleblowers have come forward, joining those who have previously provided information about Apple's supply chain in the country.
  • According to a recent statement by the legal representative, "In recent weeks, since the release of Amsterdam & Partners' Blood Minerals report, we have received new evidence from whistleblowers. As we consider our legal options, it is more important than ever that Apple provide real answers to the serious questions we have raised."

With this development, the lawyers confirmed that the DRC has instructed them to determine, over the next few weeks and months, what legal actions to take under US and French law based on the gathered evidence to establish Apple's responsibility for the alleged acts.

On April 25, 2024, Amsterdam & Partners LLP confirmed that they had demanded that Apple's French subsidiaries and the US parent company respond to a series of detailed questions about whether their supply chain is tainted by blood minerals pillaged from the DRC. 

With the new statement, they reported that Apple has remained silent, not responding to or acknowledging receipt of the questions.

“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,” the DRC lawyers said. 

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Meanwhile, a report quoted Apple stating, "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.”

Remember that in the report (pdf) titled Blood Minerals: The Laundering of DRC's 3T Minerals by Rwanda and Private Entities, Rwanda was also accused of being a source for big tech firms' products, despite having a lower production scale than the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as laundering 3T minerals and other Congo conflict minerals.

Meanwhile, Rwandan government spokeswoman Yolande Makolo dismissed the claims as a "rehashing of baseless allegations and conjecture, attempting to capitalise on media interest in one of the world's largest companies."

She went on to say that it was simply a ruse by the DRC government, which is constantly attempting to divert attention away from Rwanda by making false accusations.


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