Cobalt is one of the most essential elements when it comes to preparation of batteries for mobile phones, laptops, electric vehicles and most other similar devices. Congo in particular is a country known for its Cobalt mining. However, according to latest reports from Amnesty International, a large number of Cobalt Mining workers in the Democratic Republic of Congo are actually children! Child labor is outlawed in most countries and is a despised act worldwide.
Amnesty, after his finding has now accused tech heavyweights such as Sony, Apple, Samsung SDI of lax oversight of the supply of cobalt from mines in Congo to smelters and on to battery-makers. Amnesty has worked on this report along with African Resources Watch (Afrewatch).
“It is a major paradox of the digital era that some of the world’s richest, most innovative companies are able to market incredibly sophisticated devices without being required to show where they source raw materials for their components,” Afrewatch executive director Emmanuel Umpula said.
Apple was quick to respond to the allegation stating that they have a ‘zero-tolerance policy’ against child labor, and the company is working on ways to improve the situation as soon as possible. Samsung too has replied to these allegations, stating that they have conducted written evaluations and on-site inspections of all suppliers to certify compliance with human rights, labour, ethics, environment and health standards.
Sony, on the other hand, is yet to respond.
Cobalt Mining by children for the production of batteries is a recent issue which has sprung up, and with such big names being accused, it is soon expected to blow out of proportions. Samsung has further told Amnesty that it is very hard to trace the source of the Cobalt due to non-disclosure by suppliers and the complexity of supply chains.
This Cobalt Mining comes in as a major issue and companies would try to distance themselves from it as soon as possible. Sony’s delays are certain to bring bad press for them, while Apple and Samsung are being scrutinized for this oversight.