Tech giants pledge to keep children out of cobalt mines that supply smartphone and electric-car batteries
Author: Peter Whoriskey and Todd C. Frankel, Washington Post, Published on: 20 December 2016
Separate groups of the world’s leading technology companies are launching two initiatives to curb “the worst forms of child labor” and other abusive practices in the supply chain for cobalt, a key ingredient in lithium-ion batteries that power smartphones, laptops and electric cars. About 60 percent of the world’s cobalt originates in the Congo, where hand-dug mines rife with dangers attract legions of poorly equipped “artisanal” miners who work for as little as $2 a day.
Apple, HP, Samsung SDI and Sony have joined an effort known as the Responsible Cobalt Initiative…led by a Chinese business group, the Chinese Chamber of Commerce for Metals, Minerals and Chemicals Importers and Exporters [CCCMC], and supported by the…OECD…Members of the initiative pledged to follow OECD guidelines for mining supply chains, which call for companies to trace how cobalt is being extracted, transported, manufactured and sold. Any abuses would require immediate correction.
Separately…the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition [EICC] has announced the new “Responsible Raw Materials Initiative.”…to expand scrutiny of their supply chains beyond the traditional four “conflict” minerals covered by U.S. legislation — tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold. These minerals, when taken from the Congo region, receive extra attention because of potential ties to funding militias…one of the minerals the initiative is considering is cobalt from Congo…[also mentions Dell, Ford Motors, Foxconn, LG Chem, Telsa & Umicore]