Apple, Samsung, Microsoft Amongst others face Child Labour Claims
Several big-name tech firms, including Apple, Samsung, Microsoft and Sony have been accused by Human Rights Organization Amnesty of using kids for sourcing minerals used in their various products.
Citing a report that it did into cobalt mining in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, it found children as young as seven were working in unearthing cobalt that these large incorporations use for their Lithium Ion batteries.
The African country produces over 50% of the world’s cobalt. Miners working in the area face long-term health problems and the risk of fatal accidents, according to Amnesty. Amnesty also claimed that at a minimum of 80 miners had died underground in the country between September-December last year.
The report by Amnesty is the first comprehensive account of cobalt mining in Democratic Republic of the Congo. To arrive at their conclusions, Amnesty International along with Afrewatch visited five mines in DRC in April and May 2015. They interviewed 90 workers, 17 of them children.
According to Amnesty, “more than half of the world’s total supply of cobalt comes from the [DRC]. According to the government’s own estimates, 20 percent of the cobalt currently exported from the DRC comes from artisanal miners in the southern parts of the country. “There are approximately 110,000 to 150,000 artisanal miners in this region, who work alongside much larger industrial operations.”
The report further reveals, ” the miners who are referred to as ‘creuseurs’ in the DRC, mine by hand using the most basic tools to dig out rocks from the tunnels deep underground. Artisanal miners include children as young as seven who scavenge for rocks containing cobalt in the discarded by-products of industrial mines, and who wash and sort the ore before it is sold.”
Not surprisingly, these major tech firms such as Samsung, Sony and Vodafone denied any link to this supply chain or to DRC sourced Cobalt . Apple informed that it is evaluating alooking at a number of different materials, including cobalt, to identify both labor and environmental risks. Microsoft on the other hand said it hadn’t traced cobalt use in Microsoft products all the way to the source “due to the complexity and resources required.”