Perhaps a new App is not the answer…

By Rhona Murray

Hi Steve,

I’d planned to buy a new iPhone tomorrow – my first upgrade since buying the very first version on the first day of its release – but I’m hesitant without knowing Apple’s position on sourcing the minerals in its products.

Are you currently making any effort to source conflict-free minerals? In particular, I’m concerned that Apple is getting tantalum, tungsten, tin, and gold from Eastern Congo through its suppliers.

Looking forward to your response,


Jobs’ reply:

Yes. We require all of our suppliers to certify in writing that they use conflict few [sic] materials. But honestly there is no way for them to be sure. Until someone invents a way to chemically trace minerals from the source mine, it’s a very difficult problem.

Sent from my iPhone


In June 2010 Apple loyalist Derick Rhodes contacted Steve Jobs in what would result in the first ever direct reply from the founding father of Apple. This short exchange on Rhodes concern over the ethical sourcing in Apple’s supply chain highlights the issue of conflict minerals plaguing the electronic industry today.

From the research displayed in the Conflict Materials section of the iPhone Project 2011 blog it will become apparent that this reply is far from satisfactory, both in respect to the consumer but also in respect to the progress that Apple has made  in their long-term strategy to ensure their supply chain really is, ‘conflict-free’.

Apple has claimed the world electronics stage, the leading light in a rapidly developing technological era, but can it rise to the responsibility of being a leading ethical electronics provider? Read the evidence and decide for yourself.


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