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29 Apr 2022

Fabián Andrés Cambero & Carolina Pulice, Mining.com

DRC: Report reveals a faulty certification scheme by the ITSCI allowing the trafficking of conflict minerals likely used by Apple, Tesla and Intel

'Apple, Tesla, Intel could be using conflict minerals due to faulty scheme', 27 April 2022

Several of the world’s largest companies including Apple, Tesla and Intel may be using conflict minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in their products as they rely on a certification scheme accused of helping “launder” irresponsibly mined metals.

According to the latest report from Global Witness, an international non-profit that challenges power abuses, several firms that use the International Tin Association’s Tin Supply Chain Initiative (ITSCI) scheme are allegedly at fault of fueling conflict.

The ITSCI program, launched after the 2010 Dodd Frank legislation, requires US companies to vet their supply chains to avoid using minerals tied to human rights abuse and guerillas. Global Witness’ report suggests the scheme is not fulfilling its mission as its researchers gathered “compelling evidence” of ITSCI enabling the laundering of ore from mines controlled by militia or using child labour. The same certification has allowed the trafficking of conflict minerals, used to finance armed clashes, according to Global Witness.

In one mining area, Nzibira, the investigation found that up to 90% of minerals introduced into ITSCI during the first quarter of 2021 did not come from operations certified as meeting security and human rights standards. Worsening the problem, Global Witness said, a significant portion of those minerals were linked to conflict and human rights abuses. A similar situation was detected at another ten locations.

The report claims ITSCI has downplayed and ignored these issues... This is not the first time top tech companies are said to be linked to conflict minerals. Five of the world’s largest — Tesla, Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft and Dell — were singled out in December in a lawsuit accusing them of being complicit in the death of children in Africa forced to mine cobalt.

In response to questions from Global Witness, ITSCI denied any supply contamination as well as links to armed conflict and child labour...