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13 Gen 2020

Ewelina U. Ochab, Forbes

Are These Tech Companies Complicit In Human Rights Abuses Of Child Cobalt Miners In Congo?

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In late 2019, some of world’s largest tech companies, including Apple, Alphabet (which is the parent company of Google LLC), Microsoft, Dell and Tesla (the Defendants), were named in a lawsuit brought in Washington DC court by 13 Congolese families (the Claimants). The lawsuit alleges that their children were killed or injured while mining for cobalt in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)...

The lawsuit alleges that the companies “are knowingly benefiting from and providing substantial support to this ‘artisanal’ mining system in the DRC. Defendants know and have known for a significant period of time the reality that DRC’s cobalt mining sector is dependent upon children, with males performing the most hazardous work in the primitive cobalt mines, including tunnel digging. These boys are working under... 

According to Siddharth Kara, an expert on modern day slavery, “more than 60% of the world’s supply of cobalt is mined in the ‘copper belt’ of the south-eastern provinces of DRC.” His research suggests that “more than 255,000 creuseurs mining cobalt in DRC, at least 35,000 of whom are children, some as young as six.” His research claims that “children under the age of 14 years earn an average of $0.81 per day, adult females earn an average of $1.02 per day, and adult males earn an average of $2.04 per day.”

To address the issue, in his 2018 article, Kara proposed that “any company sourcing cobalt from DRC must establish an independent, third-party system of verification that all mineral supply chains are cleansed of exploitation, cruelty, slavery, and child labor. They must invest whatever is needed to ensure the decent pay, safe and dignified working conditions, healthcare, education and general wellbeing of the people whose cheap labor they rely on.”



Part of the following timelines

USA: Apple, Google, Dell, Microsoft & Tesla face lawsuit over forced child labour in DRC cobalt mines

Lawsuit against Apple, Google, Tesla, and others (re child labour, DRC)