WASHINGTON POST – Separate groups of the world’s leading technology companies are launching two initiatives to curb “the worst forms of child labour” and other abusive practices in the supply chain for cobalt, a key ingredient in lithium-ion batteries that power smartphones, laptops and electric cars.
About 60 per cent of the world’s cobalt originates in the Congo, where hand-dug mines rife with dangers attract legions of poorly-equipped, “artisanal” miners who work for as little as $2 a day
Apple, HP, Samsung SDI, and Sony have joined an effort, known as the Responsible Cobalt Initiative. It is being led by a Chinese business group, the Chinese Chamber of Commerce for Metals, Minerals & Chemicals, and supported by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), according to the group.
Members of the initiative pledged to follow OECD guidelines for mining supply chains, which call for companies to trace how cobalt is being extracted, transported, manufactured and sold. Any abuses would require immediate correction.
While advocacy groups have alleged for years that cobalt was posing deadly risks to miners and causing environmental damage, eradicating the worst abuses has proven difficult because tracing cobalt in consumers products back to the mines involves global leaps — from Africa to China to world markets — and across many companies.
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