Apple cuts 12 suppliers over ‘conflict minerals’ failures

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Apple reported that in 2021 it stopped working with 12 smelters and refiners over concerns about their mining in areas of armed conflict.

As he reported in 2020, as well as in 2019, Apple notified the SEC that it had conducted a “conflict minerals audit.” The company says all of its existing smelters and refiners participated in the audit, and that 12 that did not were removed from the supply chain.

The audit was an independent 3TG (tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold) audit. Apple only specifically mentions the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), while saying it aims to use mining “responsibly” around the world.

“As of December 31, 2021 – for the seventh consecutive year – 100% of identified smelters and refiners in our supply chain for all applicable Apple products manufactured in calendar year 2021 have participated in an independent conflict minerals audit by a third party for 3TG,” says Apple’s filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

“Apple’s Supplier Code of Conduct…which includes Apple’s Supplier Responsibility Standard on Responsible Materials Sourcing,” Apple says, “…requires suppliers, smelters, refiners and recyclers in our supply chain that they identify and assess a wide range of risks beyond conflict, including social, environmental and human rights risks”.

As part of this, all these suppliers are required “to participate in 3TG’s third-party traceability and audit programs”.

“Since 2009, Apple has ordered the removal of 163 3TG smelters and refiners from its supply chain (a total of 9 tantalum, 50 tin, 19 tungsten and 85 gold smelters and refiners),” continues the folder. “In 2021, we removed 12 smelters and refiners from our supply chain, including those that were unwilling to participate or conduct a third-party audit, or that did not otherwise meet our compliance requirements. ‘responsible sourcing of minerals’.

Apple is careful not to claim 100% certainty in its attempts to guard against the use of minerals mined in conflict zones, or where mining fund profits are struggling.

“Of the 253 3TG smelters and refiners determined to be part of our supply chain as of December 31, 2021,” Apple states, “we have found no reasonable basis to conclude that any such smelter or refiner sourced 3TG which directly or indirectly financed or benefited armed groups in the DRC or in a neighboring country”.

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