Fair minerals - really fair in DRC?

Hi, as fairphone says having business connections with Congo mining companies, what is your/the companys opinion and remark concernig this article found recently in The Washington Post:

Can fairphone be sure that it is in the position to handle businesses really fair - within that country???
If somebody will argue tough or even unfair, fairphones sentence “Instead of turning away from regions with a high risk of conflict, we want to do business in areas where we can have the greatest impact. To support economic development and encourage responsible mining practices in the DRC and beyond, we’re partnering with a variety of initiatives to set up transparent supply chains for the essential minerals used in our phones.” could be seen as a lame excuse/plea to dodge the Dodd-Frank-Act by not beeing listed…

I think you maybe misunderstood the work done by FairPhone.

First of all, they will be the first to tell you their phone is not 100% fair.

But what they want to proof is it that is possible to mine responsible in the DRC and Rwanda. The Dodd-Frank-act resulted in big companies simply avoiding resources from this region, which caused many problem for the people living from the mining industry over there. Sourcing from certified local mines is completely legal according to Dodd-Frank (which requires to prove it’s not a conflict material if it is sourced from this region), and supports people living in terrible conditions (instead of big companies with Canadian or Australian mines).

I would advise you to dig deeper into the website (like here: https://www.fairphone.com/en/our-goals/fair-materials/responsible-sourcing/+++) and the blog, which contains a lot of useful information (like these interesting articles). But also on the forum, the topic is discussed (like here: Details about the New Bugurama Mining Company (NBM)).

And of course, discussion is always interesting! So I hope others will join in this topic!


Also check out this discussion:

1 Like

I didn’t misunderstood, I just wanted to express my concerns that nobody of us i.e. consumers really KNOW what happens there (DRC, China, Ruanda…) an just has to trust the companies that they are doing fair business. Whom to believe? It’s so hard to differ what or if is only PR (Apple?) or the truth (also Apple?).
Digging deeper can help, but maybe the first impression ist the most important - and the cited sentence of the fairphone website sounds like an excuse to me, as I said. Maybe it’s just the wording, kind off…
And, what is more important, the article of THe Washington Post is just unsettling - again, whom to believe?
So it ends up in trustfullness - or not.

I would say the opposite is true for FP customers: we do know what happens there. We have movies and reports from FP staff visiting these places, they work together with external cetifiers (one of the blog posts I linked to does talk about the tracability and how they try to organise this, and contained a link to this interesting report).

So, I would argue FP can be believed in what they claim. But there is a big remark: they don’t claim all minerals used in their phone fulfill these standards. Cobalt is unfortunately not in their list: so far, they “only” have fair Tin, Tantalum, Tungsten and Gold, I think. These are the “big four” conflict minerals, so I think it is more than justified they tried to include these first. Personally, I don’t think they will stop here, so hopefully one day, Cobalt will also be included in this list.

If a company (like Apple, Samsung,…) doesn’t make any claims, there is not much we can or cannot believe: they just don’t talk about it. That doesn’t make it less unsettling of course, but it is a whole different discussion.

The Gold is Fairtrade certified, but the 3T aren’t; they are “only” sourced conflict-free, meaning that the mines they come from don’t support warlords. Conflict-free does not imply any other social standards, such as fair wages.

I’m sure that Fairphone is demanding such standards from the mine owners, but there is simply no independent certification system in place (such as with Faitrade).


True, I did indeed mix up a bit :slight_smile:

Oh, Apple claims it (sustainability, CO2-saving, fair workig conditions …) and they talk about it. And if not, the Apple “followers” (or addicts, fanatics, believers…) do. Especially when in discussion with Android believers… (and FP is an Android phone, unfortunately - and Google is far from the attributes mentioned above).

I got all your points (and the points of the other discussants) - obviously the FP website doesn’t convice me that much I would hope it could do. On the other hand I highly appreciate FP’s endeavors.
As I said, maybe just kind of wording.

Just out of curiosity, what would convince you?

As Milton Friedman explains in this video, even a tiny pencil is a very complicated product. How could any company be completely transparent to its customers if parts of the manufacturing are even concealed from the people making the product?

And what is ‘Fair?’ Dutch chocolate maker Tony Chocolony (our bellies know we love 'em) has been trying to make slave free chocolate for over ten years now and still hasn’t succeeded. Not to say, that their challenge is an easy one, but no one would argue that making a Fairphone is easier.

So I am wondering what part of our website does not convince you?
Or is there a chance that we somehow made it seem as we were are doing more then we can actually do?

1 Like