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Apple says most iPhone metal suppliers conflict-free, pushes the rest to get in line


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It's easy to forget that the wondrous, tiny computer in your pocket is built from components sourced all over the world, and sometimes, those building blocks come from not-so-nice origins. War-torn regions of the world often use resource and mineral sales to fund local conflict, creating a moral dilemma for gadget consumers and hardware manufactures alike. Naturally this issue has gotten some attention, and Apple says it's doing its part to ensure that its products are built from conflict-free materials.

In the company's 2014 Supplier Responsibility report, Cupertino confirmed that as of January 2014, all of the smelters that provided tantalum metal to its supply chain were verified as conflict-free by third-party auditors. The company couldn't quite say the same for the other metals used in consumer electronics, however: several of its gold, tin and tungsten suppliers won't openly verify compliance with the Conflict-Free Smelter Program (CFSP). Apple hasn't cut ties with these manufactures, but it has pledged to publish a quarterly report of the names, countries and CFSP status of all its suppliers to help "drive accountability" and promote participation. With any luck, Cupertino will be able to shame the rest of its supply chain into boycotting conflict-minerals -- delivering on its 2011 promise to build guilt-free iPhones.

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