Major mobile manufacturers admit to using environmentally disastrous tin

Nokia, Sony, Motorola, LG and Blackberry all admit the possibility of using tin from the island of Bangka, an environmental danger spot

After an international campaign organized by Friends of the Earth, the world’s top mobile phone manufacturers have admitted that they are likely to be using tin from environmentally-damaging sources.

Nokia, Sony, Motorola, LG and Blackberry have all issued statements admitting varying degrees of culpability in using tin from the Indonesian island of Bangka, where mining operations are causing deforestation, spoiling drinking water and farmland, and destroying local coral reefs.

Indonesia is the largest global supplier of tin and Bangka provides 90 per cent of the nation’s output. As well as the environmental damage of mining on the island there is also a human cost, with police reporting a miner dying each week in 2011 from pit collapses and related accidents.

Tin is an essential component in nearly all electronics and with the number of mobile devices in the world currently outnumbering people, the problem of sourcing environmentally-responsible materials refuses to go away. An aerial view of the environmental damage caused by tin mining in Indonesia's Bangka Belitung province May 18, 2010. REUTERS/Dwi Satmoko

Nokia’s statement on the matter admitted that “the presence of Indonesian tin in our supply chain procedures or ultimately in our products is likely” and that the company “cannot rule out the possibility that tin mined at Bangka-Belitung may be in our supply chain”.

Motorola also admitted the possibility of their phones using Bangka tin, before saying they were working with local groups and NGOs “with the goal of reaching meaningful assurances that tin mining on Bangka Island is done in an environmentally and socially responsible manner."

Only Apple has so far refused to give official comment on the matter, with Friends of the Earth's Director of Policy and Campaigns Craig Bennett describing the company’s silence as “cowardly”: “[Apple’s silence] contradicts its own CEO's commitment to be more transparent about Apple supply chains.”

A previous report from the environmental charity said they had confirmed that Apple uses tin sourced from Bangka, which is supplied via Indonesian distributor PT Timah. Apple has previously come under fire for turning a blind eye to illegal and damaging activity caused by its suppliers. It was recently accused of outsourcing to factories guilty of labour violations.

When contacted by The Independent, Apple repeated previous assurances on their commitment to an ethical and responsible supply chain and also stated that they had initiated "an EICC working group focused on this issue" and that they are "helping to fund a new study on mining in the region so we can better understand the situation."

The full statements form the other mobile companies involved can be read here, but disappointly, most are as carefully worded as Apple's.

  Indonesian miners hose down a mining site as they sort out tin ore from sand on Bangka island February 21, 2007. REUTERS/Beawiharta

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

    £27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: IT Support Analyst

    £35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

    Guru Careers: Graduate Software Developer / Junior Developer

    £20 - 28k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Graduate Software Develop...

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Web Designer

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Web Designer is required to join a f...

    Day In a Page

    Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

    The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

    How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
    Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

    Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

    'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

    How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

    Art attack

    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
    Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

    Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

    Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
    Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

    'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

    Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
    10 best wedding gift ideas

    It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

    Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
    Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

    Paul Scholes column

    With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
    Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

    Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

    Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
    Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

    Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

    The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
    Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
    Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

    Fifa corruption arrests

    All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
    Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

    The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

    In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

    Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
    Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

    How Stephen Mangan got his range

    Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor