Congo Lawyers Demand Apple Address Conflict Mineral Supply Chain Concerns


PARIS, May 22 (Reuters) – Lawyers representing the Democratic Republic of Congo’s government announced on Wednesday they have obtained new whistleblower evidence suggesting Apple may be sourcing minerals from conflict zones in eastern Congo.

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The lawyers urged Apple to clarify its supply chain practices in Congo and are considering legal actions. Apple did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment.

Eastern Congo has been plagued by violence since the 1990s, with various armed groups, some supported by neighboring Rwanda, fighting over resources, national identity, and ethnicity.

The lawyers notified Apple CEO Tim Cook on April 22 about their concerns and also contacted Apple subsidiaries in France, demanding a response within three weeks. The law firm Amsterdam & Partners LLP has been investigating allegations that minerals mined in Congo are being smuggled out through Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi.

In a statement on Wednesday, the firm said, “the tech giant has remained silent and neither answered nor even acknowledged receipt of the questions” four weeks after their initial communication. Robert Amsterdam, one of the lawyers, mentioned that the firm has since received additional evidence from whistleblowers.

“It is more urgent than ever that Apple provide real answers to the very serious questions we have raised,” Amsterdam stated.

Apple has previously asserted that it does not directly procure primary minerals and has been auditing its suppliers for several years, publishing its findings. In a report last year, Apple claimed that 100% of identified smelters and refiners in its supply chain for 2023 had participated in independent third-party conflict minerals audits.

“We found no reasonable basis for concluding that any of the smelters or refiners of 3TG 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,” the Apple report stated.

Peter Sahlas, another lawyer from Amsterdam & Partners LLP, told Reuters that individuals involved in Apple’s supply chain verification in Congo reported their contracts were terminated after they raised concerns about “blood minerals” in Apple’s supply chain.

“We are engaging with these individuals and evaluating their evidence and will have more to say once we have completed robust verifications,” Sahlas added, without providing further details.

Since the Congo lawyers’ letter in April, clashes have intensified in eastern Congo, with Rwandan-backed M23 rebels seizing control of Rubaya, a key mining town for coltan used in smartphones and other devices.

By Naija247news
By Naija247news
Naija247news is an investigative news platform that tracks news on Nigerian Economy, Business, Politics, Financial and Africa and Global Economy.

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