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13 August 2013 | Ceri Allan
The world’s biggest mobile phone manufacturers have promised action after an investigation alleged the mining of tin used in mobile phones is environmentally and socially harmful.
Nokia, Sony, Blackberry, Motorola and LG Electronics released statements pledging a response after Friends of the Earth (FoE) alleged tin mined for use in phones causes environmental damage and social problems.
The FoE investigation found silt from tin mining in Bangka, Indonesia is killing coral reefs and sea grass that is eaten by turtles, driving away fish and subsequently resulting in local fishermen losing their livelihoods. It also alleged unsafe working conditions and the use of child labour in mines.
The manufacturers confirmed they were working with suppliers, industry groups and addressing sourcing policies to tackle the problem.
“It’s great that most of the mobile industry is now being upfront with customers about the socially and environmentally damaging tin in their phones and committing to tackle the problems together,” said Craig Bennett, FoE’s director of policy and campaigns.
“To prevent problems elsewhere and help companies identify risks and inefficiencies in production, we're also calling for new laws in Europe requiring them to reveal the full human and environmental impacts of their operations,” he added.
FoE was critical that Apple failed to respond to its investigation, but the company told SM it was working with an Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition group looking into this issue and funding a study on mining in the region to understand the situation.