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article imageTech giants accused of using cobalt mined by children

By Karen Graham     Jan 19, 2016 in World
A new report out by Amnesty International claims Apple, Samsung and Sony failed to perform basic checks as required to make sure mining firms are not taking advantage of children by using them in the mining of essential minerals.
In a report that focused on cobalt mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the human rights organization reported finding young children working in mines to extract the mineral vital to the production of lithium ion batteries.
The DRC produces at least half of the world's supply of cobalt, and workers used in its extraction are faced with long-term health problems. The BBC is reporting Amnesty says about 80 cobalt miners died underground in the DRC between September 2014 and December 2015 while UNICEF reports that 40,000 children in the DRC are working in the mines.
Gizmodo says Amnesty based its report on interviews with 87 people. The report details that children as young as seven years old are used to extract the mineral before it is sold to larger firms, such as Congo Dongfang Mining, Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt Ltd, and Huayou Cobalt.
The ore is then processed and sent on to companies in China and South Korea where it is then used in the making of batteries. Amnesty International is claiming that large companies like Apple, Samsung and Sony use parts containing cobalt mined in DRC mining operations.
Reuters says Amnesty claims that Congo Dongfang Mining International has not been checking the sources of the cobalt it is purchasing from buying houses, leading to it being "highly likely" that the mineral was coming from mines using child-labor.
Chinese mineral Giant Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt told Amnesty, according to Fox News, that it had "reasonably presumed that the behaviors of suppliers comply with relevant regulations of the DRC and taken the corresponding social responsibilities."
All three tech giants professed to have no tolerance for child-labor practices within their supply chain and assured Amnesty International they were looking into the reports. Some of the child-laborers interviewed said they worked 10-hour days and were paid one to two dollars per shift. The work is above ground, and involves washing and carrying heavy rocks.
In a press release, Amnesty International's Mark Dummett said: “Millions of people enjoy the benefits of new technologies but rarely ask how they are made. It is high time the big brands took some responsibility for the mining of the raw materials that make their lucrative products. Companies whose global profits total $125 billion cannot credibly claim that they are unable to check where key minerals in their productions come from.”
More about Democratic Republic of Congo, cobalt mining, using children, Lithium ion batteries, Amnesty international
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