Apple faces legal threat from DR Congo over mining dispute

The DRC is rich in tantalum, tin, tungsten and gold – known as 3T or 3TG – used in smartphones

AFP June 14, 2024
An Apple logo hangs above the entrance to the Apple store on 5th Avenue in the Manhattan borough of New York City, July 21, 2015. —REUTERS/File Photo


The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo is studying legal action against Apple in France and the United States, after accusing the US tech giant of using "illegally exploited" minerals, its lawyers said Thursday.

In April, the DRC's Paris-based lawyers said Apple had purchased key minerals smuggled from the DRC into neighbouring Rwanda, where they were laundered and "integrated into the global supply chain".

On Thursday, lawyer William Bourdon said that after receiving a formal notice, Apple had given only a "terse" response that could be considered "a form of contempt, cynicism and arrogance".

The government's lawyers were meeting in Kinshasa to discuss strategic options for the case, and held talks with President Felix Tshisekedi.

"The legal options are on the table" for both France and the United States, Bourdon said, adding that other challenges could be lodged in countries "on all the continents".

The DRC is rich in tantalum, tin, tungsten and gold -- known as 3T or 3TG -- that are used in producing smartphones and other electronic devices.

Read: Apple WWDC 2024: ChatGPT comes to iPhone; 'Apple Intelligence' unveiled

The country's mineral-rich Great Lakes region has been wracked by violence since regional wars in the 1990s.

Tensions resurged in late 2021 when rebels from the March 23 Movement (M23) began recapturing swathes of territory.

The DRC, the United Nations and Western countries accuse Rwanda of supporting rebel groups including M23 in a bid to control the region's vast mineral resources, an allegation Kigali denies.

Apple said in April: "Based on our due diligence efforts... 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".


Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ