Leading brand smartphones almost certainly contain tin from an island in Indonesia where tin mining is destroying forests and farmland, choking coral reefs and devastating many communities, according to a new Friends of the Earth investigation released today: ‘Mining for Smartphones: the True Cost of Tin’
The research by Friends of the Earth in the UK and Indonesia shows
that Samsung and Apple deal with companies that use tin mined on
Bangka island. It’s almost certain that this tin ends up in their
products although the companies may not have known this or the
devastating effect of mining on the island.
“Tin mining has
damaged more than 65 percent of Bangka's forest areas and more than
seventy percent of Bangka's coral reefs. Fifteen rivers are now
contaminated by tin mining waste and access to clean water has become
a problem for more than half of Bangka's population. And mining
tin on Bangka is very dangerous: since the beginning of this year,
more than sixty miners died, most of them buried in tin mines or
trapped underwater.” said Pius Ginting, campaign manager at Friends
of the Earth Indonesia - known in Indonesia as Walhi.
prevent problems elsewhere and help ensure that companies make
products in a way that’s within the planet’s safe limits, Friends
of the Earth England Wales and Northern Ireland has launched a new
'Make It Better' campaign.
The campaign calls on Samsung
and Apple customers and others to ask the smartphone makers to back
new rules for all companies to come clean about their supply chains.
Paul de Clerck, economic justice programme coordinator at
Friends of the Earth Europe, said : “Samsung and Apple refuse to
tell us where their tin comes from. We are asking the European Union
to urgently come up with regulations forcing companies to
disclose the resources they use and the environmental and human
rights impacts associated with them.”
Watch the trailer for Mining For Smartphones, a new three-part documentary series produced by Friends of the Earth.
The films highlight the devastating impact of tin mining on the paradise
islands of Bangka in Indonesia.
Devastation on Bangka
Dangerous and unregulated tin mining on Bangka island
killed and injuring miners – police figures show that in 2011 an
average of one miner a week died in an accident.
Silt from tin mining dredgers and boats is clouding the
formerly clear sea around Bangka, killing the seagrass eaten by
turtles and 60-70% of the island’s coral reefs, driving away fish
and ruining fishermen’s livelihoods.
Farmers struggle to grow crops in soil turned acidic by the
destruction of forests for tin mining, while abandoned craters scar
large parts of Bangka island.
Doctors suspect a possible link between Bangka’s high number
of malaria cases and the hundreds of abandoned tin mine craters
filled with stagnant water that are a breeding ground for
A third of the world’s tin is from
Bangka and neighbouring island Belitung.
Image: Ulet Ifansasti/Friends of the Earth