Major tech, auto firms may be using cobalt mined by 'children carrying bags of rocks'


Technology and automotive flocks such as Apple, Samsung, Sony, Mercedes, Volkswagen, Microsoft and LG may be expending cobalt in their products that has been mined by child donkey-work, Amnesty International says.

The human rights watchdog said Tuesday that scads multinational conglomerates are not doing a good enough job of policing their yield chains and allowing so-called conflict minerals into their by-products as a result.

While many nations have rules that captain conflict minerals, cobalt is not considered one of them under a U.S. law ssed in 2010. The inventory of conflict minerals that the U.S. recognizes includes gold, coltan, tantalum, tin and tungsten.

The assort researched cobalt mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where heartlessly half of the world’s cobalt is mined. The metal is a key ingredient in lithium-ion batteries.

Amnesty discloses all of its findings are based on publicly available investor documents.

In the process, Amnesty spoke to 87 coeval and former cobalt miners, including 17 children.

Children mentioned Amnesty International they worked for up to 12 hours a day in the mines, bear heavy loads to earn between $1 and $2 US a day. In 2014, take 40,000 children worked in mines across southern DRC, many of them depositing cobalt, according to UNICEF.

In a report, the group documents how traders buy cobalt from territories where child labour is rife and sell it to a com ny called Congo Dongfang Mother-liding (CDM), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Chinese mineral giant Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt Ltd (Huayou Cobalt).

Concerting to filings, Huayou Cobalt sold more than $235 million quality of cobalt in 2013.

Huayou and its subsidiaries then process the metals before carry them to battery component makers, who in turn sell them on to a half dozen battery-making organizations who “claim to supply technology and car com nies” such as the ones listed atop, Amnesty said.

cobalt mine congo katanga

Workers are shown mining for cobalt in a pit in Tulwizembe, Katanga hicksville, Democratic Republic of Congo last year. (Kenny Katombe/Reuters)

Amnesty broke it contacted all the com nies that came up in its research, and “none provided sufficiency details to independently verify where the cobalt in their products came from,” although ton offered at least qualified denials:

  • Apple said it was evaluating if any of its cobalt came from Huayou or anywhere else in the DRC, but held “underage labour is never tolerated in our supply chain and we are proud to compel ought to led the industry in pioneering new safeguards”
  • Samsung said “neither CDM nor Huayou Cobalt are registered suppliers and therefore Samsung does “not carry out any business transactions with both com nies.”
  • Sony utter it is conducting a fact-finding processes, but “so far could not find obvious results that our products stifle cobalt originated from Katanga in the DRC. We will continue the assessment and y close limelight to this matter.”
  • Daimler, which owns Mercedes, said the ensemble’s procurement does not “engage in any traceable mineral or commodity purchasing projects in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Concerning the rticular case at hand, we can affirm that we neither source from the DRC or the mentioned com nies directly.”
  • Volkswagen rumoured: “To our best knowledge, the cobalt in our batteries does not originate from the DRC. To our most successfully knowledge, CDM or Huayou Cobalt is not rt of our supply chain.”
  • Microsoft explained it is unable to confirm “with absolute assurance” if its supply chain is snarled. “Due to our supply chain complexity and the in-region co-mingling of materials, we are powerless to say with absolute assurance that any or none of our cobalt sources can be traced to ore pitted in the Katanga region,” Microsoft said.
  • LG confirmed that Huayou is one of its suppliers of cobalt. “We solicited our suppliers of cathode materials to confirm whether they used cobalt organizing in Katanga in the DRC, and one of our 2nd-tier suppliers, Zheijiang Huayou Cobalt Co., Ltd. (Huayou Cobalt), has sustained that their product contains cobalt originating in Katanga in the DRC.”

“The beguiling shop displays and marketing of state of the art technologies are a stark contrast to the daughters carrying bags of rocks, and miners in narrow manmade tunnels imperiling permanent lung damage,” Amnesty researcher Mark Dummett revealed.

“Millions of people enjoy the benefits of new technologies but rarely ask how they are scored. It is high time the big brands took some responsibility for the mining of the raw resources that make their lucrative products.”

In a written response, Huayou Cobalt conveyed it “reasonably presumed that the behaviours of suppliers comply with appropriate regulations of the DRC and taken the corresponding social responsibilities.”

Amnesty said intercontinental manufacturing firms have the power to fix the problem even if they are not currently exactly involved.

“Many of these multinationals say they have a zero open-mindedness policy for child labour. But this promise is not worth the per it is disregarded when the com nies are not investigating their suppliers,” Dummett declared. “Their claim is simply not credible.”

“Mining the basic textiles that power an electric car or a smartphone should be a source of prosperity for miners in DRC. The truth is that it is a back-breaking life of misery for almost no money. Big brands take the power to change this.”

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