Apple Employs ‘Name-and-Shame’ Tactics to Weed Out Conflict Minerals

Move follows a push to improve working conditions at Chinese factories

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Jonny Hogg / Reuters

Miners work in the Kalimbi tin mine near the small town of Nyabibwe, October 31, 2012.

By publishing a quarterly list of all of its suppliers’ smelters, Apple is introducing a “name-and-shame” tactic to weed out conflict minerals from its devices and pressure suppliers to comply with ethical sourcing guidelines.

“The fastest way for Apple to become conflict-free would be to channel our demand through a couple of verified smelters,” said Jeff Williams, the company’s senior vice president of operations, according to the Financial Times. “But quite honestly, if we did that, we could wave our conflict-free flag but it would do nothing to affect the workers on the ground.”

The idea is that public scrutiny could impact suppliers of minerals such as tin, tungsten and gold, where technology companies make up a minority of the customers.

The effort follows a push by Apple to regulate working conditions in its Chinese suppliers’ factories. In a December report, the Fair Labor Association found major Chinese supplier Foxconn had implemented 356 of its 360 recommendations to improve working conditions at three factories manufacturing Apple products.