The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has sent a formal notice to Apple accusing the tech giant of using "illegally exploited" minerals extracted from the country's embattled east in its products, lawyers representing the African country said Thursday.

The Paris-based lawyers for the DRC accused Apple of purchasing minerals smuggled from the DRC into neighbouring Rwanda, where they are laundered and "integrated into the global supply chain".

Contacted by AFP, Apple France said they wanted to study all the elements of the formal cease and desist notice -- a prelude to possible legal action by the DRC -- to be able to respond.