Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), if nothing else, has been much more aware and active in investigating and pursuing changes with its contractor and sub-contractor vendors in recent years. The question has become whether its concern for illegal activities is borne out of public relations – knowing that every supplier that is in the news will be identified as having an affiliation with Apple – or whether it is part of its socially conscious persona since Tim Cook took over the company from Steve Jobs in 2011. Considering the money spent and resources used on fixing labor issues at Foxconn (which we have documented before), the thought is to give Apple the benefit of the doubt and give it a little bit of credit.
It is one thing, though, for Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) to have concerns over the human beings, the people who directly assemble devices like iPads and iPhones for the company. Is it still socially conscious, of does it move over the line into a public-relations ploy when Cupertino cares about the materials that sub-contractors use and how those materials are obtained? The latest push into curbing illegal activity has taken an Apple investigative team to a place called Bangka Island, which is part of Indonesia. This issue? Near as we can tell at this point, it isn’t about people – it’s about tin.
You see, tin is a very popular raw material in the creation and development of many components and solder for most electronic devices, which includes those by smartphone market leaders Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.
Apparently, both companies have learned that some of the tin that their respective sub-contractors use to make components and solder devices has been traced back to Bangka Island, where some illegal mining has been allegedly taking place. It is reported that this tin mining has been unregulated, has been damaging the environment and has put miners in danger of their lives.
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has sent its own investigative team to the area to check ont his mining process on the island, and Samsung has sent its own team in the recent past. Why should a company like Apple care so much? Well, word has it that about 250 of Apple’s sub-suppliers use tin on various parts of Apple devices, so there is very little to an iPhone or iPad that does not have tin in it or is made from the element. And how will that look on the PR scene when there are tin-mining companies who are profiting off Apple devices through illegal activities?