updated 09:13 am EST, Thu February 13, 2014
Company specifically worried about Congo
Apple has published its eighth Supplier Responsibility report, based on data including 451 audits of its suppliers. The company claims a 95 percent compliance with the maximum 60-hour work week in its Supplier Code, a slightly improvement from 92 percent a year ago. Notably, Apple says it is now keeping a closer watch on where suppliers pull minerals from, in a bid to avoid "conflict" minerals -- minerals from regions where their sale may be used to fund ongoing wars. In particular, the Apple is focused on the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
"The ethical sourcing of minerals is an important part of our mission to ensure safe and fair working conditions. In January 2014 we confirmed that all active, identified tantalum smelters in our supply chain were verified as conflict-free by third party auditors, and we're pushing our suppliers of tin, tungsten, and gold just as hard to use verified sources. To heighten smelter accountability and help stakeholders follow our progress, we are releasing, for the first time, a list of the smelters and refiners in our supply chain along with their verification status," Apple writes (PDF).
59 smelters have been declared compliant, and another 23 are part of the Conflict-Free Smelter Program, created by the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition, which includes companies like Apple, Microsoft, Dell, and HP. The situation with 104 smelters is unknown, though electronics companies typically don't depend much on gold, tin, or tungsten.