Apple and other U.S. tech giants have apparently been purchasing gold from sources who obtained it from illegal mining operations in Brazil.
Brazil prohibits mining on indigenous territory in the Amazon jungle, where the mining is said to have occurred. A moratorium on resource extraction has been put in place because it causes deforestation and mercury pollution of rivers.
Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon bought the gold in 2020 and 2021 from a number of refiners, including Chimet and Marsam, according to reports. The Brazilian authorities are looking into both refiners for illicit sourcing and manufacture.
A report by Reporter Brazil, initially reported by 9to5Mac, claims that both Apple and Microsoft used the illegally mined gold to produce smartphones and computers. Both Google and Amazon have been using some of the gold that was mined from the ore to build their own servers.
The original research states that, in addition to pollution and deforestation, illicit operations result in increasing organized crime. Violence against indigenous people has increased considerably in recent years. A whopping 28% of the gold mined in Brazil is unethically mined.
The first thing Apple did when contacted for comment was link the media to its own environmental policy. It then wrote a letter declaring that they were no longer interested in purchasing gold from Marsam.
It’s not obvious how Apple and Chimet are currently connected. It’s also unclear what, if anything, Amazon, Google, or Microsoft did to the suppliers after being made aware of the gold’s provenance.
Apple has recently been criticized for the behavior of its suppliers in the company’s supply chain in recent years. During the year 2021, Apple came under fire when a report revealed possible linkages between Apple suppliers and forced labor programmers linked to an alleged Chinese genocide of Uyghurs.
It was in 2020 that Apple broke connections with O-film, a supplier of iPhone camera modules, after discovering that the company had been employing forced labor.