A U.S. report has cited leading tech firms, chief of them Apple, for active efforts in ensuring that products they issue in global markets were not laced with 'blood money'.
Washington-based Enough Project said on Thursday that Apple, Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Intel were largely instrumental in reducing the footprints of 'conflict minerals' on key tech products like the ubiquitous smartphone.
In a report, the group pointed to copper, cobalt, gold, tin and tantalum as conflict minerals because their harvest, specifically in the Central African nation of Congo, directly funded armed groups that inflict suffering to millions.
"The exploitation of Congo's mineral resources continues to exacerbate conflict and instability on the ground and consumers are still largely in the dark as to whether or not their products are conflict free," the Enough Project report said.
The ongoing civil war in Congo has displaced hundreds of thousands of civilians, according to reports by The Associated Press (AP), with many consistently harassed by armed groups that sourced their funding from mining.
These groups, AP said, carry out attacks on unarmed civilians and even abduct scores of people for forced labour in mining sites, products of which they sell or exchange for weapons.
One of the minerals, tantalum, is abundant in the war-torn country and is widely used in the manufacture of handsets, Enough Project said.
Intense lobbying by the advocacy group has resulted in the passage of a U.S. legislation on July 201, which legally requires U.S.-based firms to open up their supply chain data purportedly to check on the inflow of minerals coming from Congo.
The group clarified that its campaign was not intended to paralyse Congo's mining industry as whole but merely "to cut off armed groups," and eventually drive them away from mining communities.
In this line, Enough Project lauded Apple, HP and Intel for their aggressive contribution in minimising the benefits that armed groups acquire from the exploitation of minerals in Congo.
Specifically, the group heaped praises on Intel for becoming the only tech giant to commit to a timeline that would make the company's processing chips conflict-free.
Apple and HP were also quite active in eliminating conflict minerals from their respective supply chains at the soonest possible time, the group's report said, and so were the following prominent tech companies: Motorola Solutions, Royal Philips Electronics, Acer Group, Dell and Microsoft.
Some well known tech brands, however, were still struggling to pitch in their share, Enough Project lamented on its report, and most notable of them is Japanese game giant Nintendo.
"Despite growing public awareness about this issue and significant industry movement, Nintendo has made no known effort to trace or audit its supply chain," the group's report claimed.
Yet in a statement provided by Nintendo following the release of the Enough Project report on Thursday, the company reiterated that "we ... take our social responsibilities as a global company very seriously."
The Japanese firm also disclosed that much of its production activities were being handled by manufacturing partners, leaving it "not directly involved in the sourcing of raw materials that are ultimately used in our products."
But Nintendo insisted too that "we expect our production partners," to observe the same principles that we adhere to in so far as social awareness is concerned.
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