Apple, Samsung And Sony Linked To Child Labour Claims In Cobalt Mines 

A new report by Amnesty International claims that Apple, Samsung and Sony are consistently failing to perform the basic checks which are required to ensure that mining operations for essential minerals do not take advantage of child labour. The report focuses on cobalt mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) — the origin of 50 per cent of the mineral that's used heavily in li-on battery production. Based on interviews with 87 people, the report explains that cobalt is mined by children as young as seven in the country, before it is sold on to large mineral firms such as Congo Dongfang Mining, Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt Ltd and Huayou Cobalt.

Those companies process the ore, before selling it on to companies in China and South Korea where it's used to make batteries. Amnesty International claims that large manufacturers, including Apple, Sony and Samsung, use parts which contain the cobalt mined in these operations.

Speaking to the BBC, Apple explained that it was "currently evaluating dozens of different materials, including cobalt, in order to identify labour and environmental risks", while Sony said it was "working with the suppliers to address issues related to human rights and labour conditions". Samsung claimed that "contracts with suppliers who use child labour will be immediately terminated".

The report claims that as many as 40,000 children work in the cobalt mines of the DRC. Some of the children interviewed for the report claim to work up to 12 hours a day, earning between $1 and $2 in the process. They work above ground, washing and carrying heavy loads of rocks. Amnesty International claims they often face physical abuse and exposure to dangerous gas and dust.

It's not the first time these companies have faced complaints over the use of child labour. Both Samsung and Apple have been accused of exploiting underage workers in the past.

"Millions of people enjoy the benefits of new technologies but rarely ask how they are made. It is high time the big brands took some responsibility for the mining of the raw materials that make their lucrative products." explained Mark Dummett, Amnesty International's business and human rights researcher, in a press release. "Companies whose global profits total $125 billion cannot credibly claim that they are unable to check where key minerals in their productions come from."

[Amnesty International via BBC]

Image by AP


Comments

    Congo Dongfang Mining, Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt Ltd and Huayou CobaltI have no love for Apple, but there's no mention in the story about the obvious Chinese companies that are directly using them as de facto slave labourers. Are we so scared of upsetting them that they get to skate on this?

    Ok so half the material available worldwide is from possible children's mines. So it's not like they're targeting the cheapest 10% which is child labour driven but more so looks like going for what they can get their hands on. If it's a choice of child labour driven cobalt or no product it doesn't take a especially smart business to realise to survive they'll need to use a questionable resource provider.

      Are you seriously suggesting that these huge corporations should condone this shit just because it's the easiest way to get hold of these minerals? Minerals that are available world wide and most abundantly from China?

        Not saying condone but they shouldn't be condemned for something they might not know about. We're talking about one mineral out of millions used in various products across the board. You can't reasonably expect any company to track down each source of each single base mineral used in their products. Sourcing contracts are constantly changing. In six months from now they could have short-term contract with a gold provider due to a shortage in their normal suppliers who in a years time is revealed to be based on slavery. Samsung or Apple probably wouldn't know but theyd be copping the flack all while now barring that supplier who is now restructuring to a new company due to lose of business.

        Sorry for not explaining properly I do see my original comment does definitely look like I'm saying it's about lazy profits. not the best with words.

    So lets all send our old phones to the kids, that way at least they get to benefit from their labour.

    Unless we totally change the economics and POLITICS of the countries in which they live, sourcing the product from; Russia, Peru, Canada or elsewhere, isn't going to improve their existence...

    Either they work for money ("every-little-helps") or they subsist from killing and eating monkeys (aka bush meat) and other "cute" wild creatures the well-meaning citizens of the (west) world would prefer to see "protected"..... No-one protects these kids.

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