July 22, 2017

Child Labor Taints Cobalt Supply from the Democratic Republic of Congo – Amnesty

Approximately 20 percent of the total mineral in the DRC is mined by unregulated, “artisanal” miners. According to a 2014 estimate by UNICEF, about 40,000 of these miners are children.

Amnesty claims to have traced cobalt used in batteries to mines where children as young as 7 work in life-threatening conditions.

Major tech companies and electric carmakers could be buying electronic components made from minerals mined by children, according to a report from Amnesty International.

The human rights group claims to have traced cobalt used in lithium batteries to mines where children – some as young as seven – are being paid a dollar a day to work in life-threatening conditions and are subjected to violence, extortion and intimidation.

“We have found that there is significant risk that cobalt mined by children could be entering their supply chains,” said Mark Dummett, human rights researcher at Amnesty.

The cobalt comes from mines in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which has more than half of the world’s supply.

Supply Chain Traced to Child Labor

 Approximately 20 percent of the total mineral in the DRC is mined by unregulated, “artisanal” miners. According to a 2014 estimate by UNICEF, about 40,000 of these miners are children.

The Amnesty report, which consisted of 17 participants who had mined, collected or handled cobalt, found that children sometimes work for as long as 24 hours at a time, exposing themselves to particles that can lead to lung-related illnesses. Children also reported carrying bags weighing anywhere between 20 – 40 kilograms, or 44 – 88 pounds, on a daily basis.

All but one of the children worked above ground, either collecting minerals from the mountains of tailings in active and inactive industrial mining concessions or working in streams and lakes close to the concessions where they washed and sorted the stones. One of the participants, an eleven-year-old boy named Arthur, said he had worked as a miner underground when he was nine.

“I worked in the mines because my parents couldn’t afford to pay for food and clothes for me. Papa is unemployed, and mama sells charcoal,” he said.

Source: Investing News Daily

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