KINSHASA – Cobalt used in batteries for phones, laptops and electric vehicles could come from mines in Democratic Republic of Congo that use child labour, an Amnesty International report said on Tuesday.
Working with campaign group African Resources Watch (Afrewatch), Amnesty accused technology giants including Apple, Samsung SDI and Sony of lax oversight of the supply of cobalt from mines in Congo to smelters and on to battery-makers.
As a result, consumer products sold across the globe could contain traces of the metal produced each year by informal Congolese mines without companies knowing, the report said.
“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.
In a statement issued in response to Amnesty’s research, Apple said it had a zero tolerance policy towards child labour and was evaluating ways to improve its identification of labour and environmental risks.
Samsung SDI said it conducted written evaluations and on-site inspections of all suppliers to certify compliance with human rights, labour, ethics, environment and health standards. Sony did not respond to emailed requests for comment.
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