Amnesty International and Africa Resource Watch have published a report alleging Fortune 100 tech firms like Apple and Microsoft use cobalt mined by children in Africa.
The report focuses on cobalt mining in the war-torn Democratic Republic of The Congo and how Chinese mining firms provide Congolese cobalt to tech giants.
Amnesty International names multiple multinational corporations including Apple, Microsoft, Samsung and Sony among others and accuses them of turning a blind eye to the practices of Chinese partner firms. The cobalt provided by Chinese firms is essential to the composition of lithium ion batteries used in smartphones and other tech products.
According to Amnesty International, “Research for this report demonstrates that companies along the cobalt supply chain are failing to conduct adequate human rights due diligence.” The report also states the mining done to obtain cobalt for high tech firms is known as artisanal mining and is done “by hand using the most basic tools to dig out rocks from tunnels deep underground.”
Amnesty International goes on to state that the practice of artisanal mining “include[s] 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.”
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