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July 14, 2024
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DR Congo Considers Legal Action Against Apple Over Mining Dispute

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is considering legal action against Apple in both France and the United States, alleging that the tech giant has used “illegally exploited” minerals, according to the DRC’s lawyers on Thursday.

In April, the DRC’s Paris-based legal team accused Apple of purchasing key minerals smuggled from the DRC into Rwanda, where they were laundered and then “integrated into the global supply chain.”

On Thursday, lawyer William Bourdon noted that after Apple received a formal notice, the company’s response was “terse,” which he interpreted as “a form of contempt, cynicism, and arrogance.”

The government’s legal team met in Kinshasa to strategize about the case and held discussions with President Felix Tshisekedi.

Bourdon stated, “The legal options are on the table” for actions in both France and the United States, adding that challenges could be filed in other countries across various continents.

The DRC is abundant in minerals such as tantalum, tin, tungsten, and gold—collectively known as 3T or 3TG—which are essential for manufacturing smartphones and other electronic devices.

The mineral-rich Great Lakes region of the DRC has experienced violence since the regional wars of the 1990s. Tensions flared again in late 2021 when the March 23 Movement (M23) rebels began seizing significant areas.

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

In response, Apple stated in April: “Based on our due diligence efforts… we found no reasonable basis for concluding that any of the smelters or refiners of 3TG identified in our supply chain as of December 31, 2023, directly or indirectly financed or benefited armed groups in the DRC or an adjoining country.”

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