Further to a campaign by Friends of the Earth, in which the environmental campaigners accused Apple of "destroying tropical forests, killing coral and wrecking the lives of communities in Indonesia" through the mining of tin used in iPhones and iPads, Apple has initiated an investigation.
Apple has updated the Supplier Responsibility section of its website with claims that it has led "a fact-finding visit" to Bangka Island.
The page states: "Bangka Island, Indonesia, is one of the world’s principal tin-producing regions. Recent concerns about the illegal mining of tin from this region prompted Apple to lead a fact-finding visit to learn more. Using the information we’ve gathered, Apple initiated an EICC working group focused on this issue, and we are helping to fund a new study on mining in the region so we can better understand the situation."
Apple states that 249 of the suppliers of components in Apple products are using tin in the components, and another 64 are using it in smelters.
Last weekend the ecowarriors visited Apple Stores to raise awareness among customers. Friends of the Earth’s Policy and Campaigns Director Craig Bennett has written to Apple CEO Tim Cook alerting him to the issues.
Friends of the Earth has been campaigning for Apple to admit that its products contain tin from Bangka and neighbouring Indonesian islands for months. The green activists first alerted Macworld to the issue back in February, as we reported at the time: Apple accused of 'trashing' Indonesia thanks to use of tin in iPad and iPhone.
Friends of the Earth claims that due to the "dangerous and unregulated" tin mining on Bangka, in 2011 an "average of one miner a week died in an accident".
The activists also claim coral and sea life is threatened due to silt from tin mining, which they claim is "killing coral reefs and seagrass eaten by turtles, driving away fish and ruining fishermen's livelihoods".
In addition, soil has become acidic after the destruction of forests for tin mining, making conditions difficult for farmers.