Archive | Mining Child and Slave Labour – Historical and Current

ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS MOUNT OVER USE OF NICKEL IN EVS – by Kieran Ahuja (Sunday Times Driving – September 7, 2020)

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OF COURSE, as something that has been widely touted as a more environmentally-friendly alternative to traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) cars, the green credentials of pure-electric vehicles have often been called into question.

A large amount of the conversation around this has revolved around the use of cobalt, which is used to aid conductivity and structural stability in lithium-ion batteries, enabling them to last for as long as they do.

However, production of cobalt is sometimes conducted in territories where a blind eye is turned to ethical mining practices, in places such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which produces around 60% of the world supply. Continue Reading →

Daimler Joins Responsible Mica Initiative to Combat Child Labor in Indian Mica Mines (Steel Guru – September 7, 2020)

https://steelguru.com/

Daimler AG is taking further important steps to ensure respect for human rights in the vicinity of raw-material mines: The Company has joined forces with the Terre des Hommes Netherlands NGO for a project and has joined the Responsible Mica Initiative to combat child labor in Indian mica mines.

The cooperation with Terre des Hommes Netherlands in Jharkhand India aims to enable children in the vicinity of mica mines to attend school and to provide economic support for their families.

The raw material mica is used, among other things, to achieve the shimmering effect of vehicle paints. The project aims to prevent parents from having to send their children to work in mica mines. Continue Reading →

Africa’s (Modern) Slavery Problem – by Joanna Rozpedowski (Global Security Review – August 21, 2020)

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From rubies in Mozambique to emeralds in Zambia, opals in Australia, and Jade in Myanmar, the mining industry is undergoing an extraction renaissance that is as profitable as it is contentious.

While concerns over environmental degradation, population displacement, employment of slave and child labor contribute to the fracturing of communities and exacerbate internal rifts and vulnerabilities of already fragile states, questions of whether or not mining is good for social and economic development grow in proportion and relevance.

Africa alone hosts inordinate amounts of mineral, gold, cobalt, palladium and platinum deposits enticing foreign interests and heavy Chinese investment. Often, however, such vast resource wealth in the hands of foreign corporate entities combined with poor regulation and state corruption raises grave concerns over equitable revenue sharing, land ownership rights, and respect for fundamental human rights. Continue Reading →

1000s of Korean laborers still lost after WWII, Cold War end – by Kim Tong-Hyung (Associated Press – August 11, 2020)

https://apnews.com/

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Shin Yun-sun describes her life as a maze of dead ends.

The South Korean has spent many of her 75 years pestering government officials, digging into records and searching burial grounds on a desolate Russian island, desperately searching for traces of a father she never met.

Shin wants to bring back the remains of her presumed-dead father for her ailing 92-year-old mother, Baek Bong-rye. Japan’s colonial government conscripted Shin’s father for forced labor from their farming village in September 1943, when Baek was pregnant with Shin. Continue Reading →

The Dirty Secrets Of ‘Clean’ Electric Vehicles – by Tilak Doshi (Forbes Magazine – August 2, 2020)

https://www.forbes.com/

The widespread view that fossil fuels are “dirty” and renewables such as wind and solar energy and electric vehicles are “clean” has become a fixture of mainstream media and policy assumptions across the political spectrum in developed countries, perhaps with the exception of the Trump-led US administration.

Indeed the ultimate question we are led to believe is how quickly can enlightened Western governments, led by an alleged scientific consensus, “decarbonize” with clean energy in a race to save the world from impending climate catastrophe.

The ‘net zero by 2050’ mantra, calling for carbon emissions to be completely mitigated within three decades, is now the clarion call by governments and intergovernmental agencies around the developed world, ranging from several EU member states and the UK, to the International Energy Agency and the International Monetary Fund. Continue Reading →

Congo officials vow to tackle child labour at mines as virus threatens spike – by Malaicka Adihe (Reuters U.K. – June 23, 2020)

https://uk.reuters.com/

KINSHASA, June 23 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Authorities in Democratic Republic of Congo’s southeastern mining heartland are boosting efforts to tackle child labour amid concerns that the coronavirus pandemic could drive more families to put their children to work in mines, officials said.

Congo is Africa’s main producer of copper and the top global source of cobalt, accounting for two-thirds of global supplies of the metal used in smartphones and electric car batteries.

Mining accounts for 32% of Congo’s national output and the economy has been hard hit by the pandemic, which has slowed demand for metals and other raw materials. Continue Reading →

Column: Tesla’s reluctant commitment to cobalt a warning to others – by Andy Home (Reuters U.S. – June 23, 2020)

https://www.reuters.com/

LONDON (Reuters) – The unpredictable Elon Musk strikes again. Just when his electric vehicle (EV) company Tesla seemed to be pivoting away from using cobalt in its batteries, it signs a long-term supply deal for the controversial metal with Glencore.

This from the man who has vowed to eliminate cobalt from the Tesla product mix because of its financial cost and the reputational cost of a metal associated with child labour and poor safety conditions at artisanal mining operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the world’s dominant producer.

Tesla’s not the first auto company to lock in future cobalt supplies with a miner. BMW did the same last year, also with Glencore as well as with the Bou-Azzer mine in Morocco. Continue Reading →

ANALYSIS: Liability: how a new court ruling could put Canadian miners in the dock – by Matthew Hall (Mining Technology – June 17, 2020)

https://www.mining-technology.com/

In a 5-4 decision back in February 2020, the Supreme Court of Canada gave the green light to Canadian courts to develop new forms of civil liability based on alleged breaches of customary international law.

We speak to McMillan LLP litigation partner and international arbitration co-chair Robert Wisner to find out what the implications of this decision are, and what the landmark case could mean for Canadian mining companies.

Nevsun Resources was a Canadian diversified mining company that was acquired by the Chinese Zijin Mining Group in 2018. One of Nevsun’s principal assets, the Bisha zinc-copper mine in Eritrea, is the subject of the case Nevsun Resources Ltd. v. Araya. Construction began on the Bisha mine in 2008, using workers from the country’s National Service Program. Continue Reading →

OPINION: Canadian mining companies better start behaving, thanks to Nevsun – by Richard Poplak (Globe and Mail – March 7, 2020)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

Richard Poplak is a Canadian author and journalist based in Johannesburg. He is currently working on a book about the Canadian mining industry and is co-director of the forthcoming documentary, Influence.

When they hear the word “slavery,” most Canadians are likely reminded of the antebellum American South. But slavery – or, more accurately, the trafficking and selling of living human beings – is a 21st-century recession-proof growth industry. Across the world, organized syndicates and shady governments benefit from the unprecedented movement of people within and across borders.

Take, for instance, the secretive African redoubt of Eritrea, one of the major contributors to the Mediterranean migrant industrial complex. Among other things, its people are fleeing a non-existent economy compounded by compulsory military service that pays conscripts next to nothing, overseen by the continent’s most determinedly dour regime.

According to figures provided by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, almost 10 per cent of Eritrea’s 5.7 million people are on the run, and an astonishing 50,000 sought asylum abroad in 2017 alone. The country ranks behind China, and just ahead of North Korea, in terms of press freedom, while its per capita GDP is the third-worst in the world. As a result, Eritrea is entirely absent of the rule of law or humane governance. Continue Reading →

Canada’s top court rules Nevsun lawsuit can proceed, paving way for more overseas abuse cases – Jeff Lewis and Sharadha Singh (Reuters Canada – February 28, 2020)

https://ca.reuters.com/

(Reuters) – Canada’s top court on Friday said a lawsuit by Eritrean workers against miner Nevsun Resources Ltd can proceed, a decision that clears the way for cases to be brought domestically against Canadian companies accused of abuses abroad.

Legal advocates and civil society groups hailed the court’s 5-4 decision as a landmark victory. The Supreme Court of Canada dismissed an appeal from Nevsun and said a lawsuit by three Eritrean workers against the miner for alleged violations of human rights could go forward.

The plaintiffs, who were employed by Nevsun at its Bisha gold mine in Eritrea, Africa, have accused the company of slavery, forced labor and crimes against humanity. Continue Reading →

RPT-COLUMN-Congo’s move to control artisanal cobalt is double-edged – by Andy Home (Reuters U.S. – February 9, 2020)

https://www.reuters.com/

LONDON, Feb 7 (Reuters) – The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo has announced ambitious plans to take control of the country’s wild-west artisanal cobalt sector.

A new state company, Entreprise Generale du Cobalt (EGC), has been given monopoly powers to purchase and market cobalt from the informal sector. The move is being hailed by the government as a way to clean up a sector that is tarnished with a reputation for child labour, lax safety and illegal activity.

That would be very good news for the cobalt market. The human cost of mining in the Congo, which accounts for more than 60% of global cobalt production, is one of the reasons companies such as Tesla are actively trying to engineer the metal out of their battery supply chain. Continue Reading →

Mining mica: can the industry overturn its legacy of exploitation? – by Heidi Vella (Mining Technology – January 28, 2020)

https://www.mining-technology.com/

Mica, a shimmering, heat resistant mineral used in everything from car paint to make-up, is in large-part produced by artisanal miners in India and Madagascar, where child labour and unsafe conditions are rife. We find out what can be done to rid the commodity of its unethical origins.

Eight-year-old Frederic works morning or afternoon shifts, depending on his school schedule, sorting mica alongside his elder brother. His hands are marked by traces, wounds and scars caused by the repetitive task of removing the calcite.

Thirteen-year-old Felicia, who has never attended school, works Monday to Sunday for a sorting company. The money she earns helps support her mother and eight siblings, but is having a negative impact on her health. These are just two stories of child labour in the illegal mica mining sector of Madagascar detailed by a new report by NGOs Terre des Hommes and SOMO. Continue Reading →

Cutting battery industry’s reliance on cobalt will be an uphill task – by Jasper Jolly (The Guardian – January 5, 2020)

https://www.theguardian.com/

Followers of Elon Musk are used to big claims on Twitter. The social media habits of the Tesla and SpaceX billionaire have landed him in legal hot water on several occasions. But for the battery industry one boast stands out: a tweeted pledge to remove an obscure mineral mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo from the next generation of Tesla’s electric cars.

Batteries are the key component in the electric car revolution that Tesla kickstarted, and each one contains cobalt. Yet concerns about human rights abuses and child labour have prompted a dual effort to cut the amount of cobalt used in batteries and to clean up complex global supply chains.

The battery industry accounts for the majority of global cobalt demand, and that demand is set to soar with more than $60bn (£46bn) of investments in new battery factories during 2019, according to the data firm Benchmark Minerals. Continue Reading →

Tech firms named in US lawsuit over DRC cobalt mining child labour (MiningWeekly.com – December 16, 2019)

https://www.miningweekly.com/

The world’s largest technology companies are being sued by the families of children who died or were maimed while mining for cobalt in the world’s largest cobalt producing nation, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The federal class action lawsuit, filed in Washington DC by human rights firm International Rights Advocates, names Apple, Alphabet – the parent company of Google, Dell Technologies, Microsoft and Tesla as defendants.

It is understood other technology firms and automotive companies were also on the human rights firm’s radar and that additional entities could be added to the lawsuit. Continue Reading →

Children as young as five make up most of Madagascar’s mica mining workforce – by Kate Hodal (The Guardian – November 21, 2019)

https://www.theguardian.com/

Children as young as five make up more than half the number of miners scavenging for mica in Madagascar, according to a leading child rights group.

A year-long investigation by Terre des Hommes Netherlands found that at least 11,000 children between the ages of five and 17 are employed in quarrying and processing the shimmery, heat-resistant mineral, which is used in everything from makeup to car paint and hugely prevalent in the automotive and electronics industry.

Children comprise as much as 62% of the overall mining workforce, researchers found, with miners descending deep into the ground to cut the mica by hand. Continue Reading →