abusesaffiliationarrow-downarrow-leftarrow-rightarrow-upattack-typeburgerchevron-downchevron-leftchevron-rightchevron-upClock iconclosedeletedevelopment-povertydiscriminationdollardownloademailenvironmentexternal-linkfacebookfiltergenderglobegroupshealthC4067174-3DD9-4B9E-AD64-284FDAAE6338@1xinformation-outlineinformationinstagraminvestment-trade-globalisationissueslabourlanguagesShapeCombined Shapeline, chart, up, arrow, graphLinkedInlocationmap-pinminusnewsorganisationotheroverviewpluspreviewArtboard 185profilerefreshIconnewssearchsecurityPathStock downStock steadyStock uptagticktooltiptwitteruniversalityweb

16 Mar 2020

Esdras Tsongo, ABC News

DRC: Coltan extraction linked to child labour and sexual abuse despite recognition as 'conflict mineral'

"Children in the Democratic Republic of Congo mine for coltan and face abuse to supply smartphone industry", 29 February 2020.

...the coltan mining industry, and the prized metal tantalum extracted from it, is a "conflict mineral", closely linked to a range of human rights abuses...Solange started work in the mines when she was just 11...Most of the mine workers come from poor families and have little education. They have few other options for earning a living...Being the victim of poverty and child labour is not the worst of her story...When her husband Dieudonne died in a car accident soon after her first child was born, there was no-one to look out for her. Vulnerable, alone and with a young baby to care for, Solange was just 15 when she says her team leader began demanding sex...At first she refused. But in return, Solange's boss made her job more difficult...Eventually, the pressure became too much. Solange agreed to sleep with her boss in return for being moved to a higher-paying and less-physically demanding job..."It was hard. My life in the mines was good but I was sexually abused by my boss almost every week," she says. "I could not give up the job because I needed the money to support my children and my parents."...

Amnesty International is concerned the smartphone industry is rife with the suffering of teenagers like Solange, and says global tech companies must do more to clean up the supply of mineral resources used in electronics manufacturing...Attempts are made to ensure coltan is ethically sourced, but it is difficult to manage. When supply from countries like DRC is mixed with ethically sourced minerals, it is possible to disguise coltan's origins and make it more difficult for manufacturers to be identified for using resources sourced off the back of human rights abuse...