Archive | Mining Child and Slave Labour – Historical and Current

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 →

Report: Madagascar’s mica mines rely on child labor – by Editor (Africa Times – November 20, 2019)

https://africatimes.com/

There are at least 11,000 children working in Madagascar’s southern mica mining region, where poverty means that sometimes entire families are exposed to dangerous health and safety conditions.

That’s according to a new report from human rights advocates at Terre des Hommes, which found that between 56 and 62 percent of children between ages 5 and 17 are working in the island nation’s three main regions for producing mica.

The mineral is used in a range of common products, including cosmetics and paints, but researchers focused on the supply chain to China because 87 percent of the mica in Madagascar is shipped by boat to Chinese ports. Ultimately it ends up being used in Japanese electronics manufacturing, Dutch and Italian telecom firms, and Swiss-held firms in similar industries. Continue Reading →

Copper, cobalt miners urged to do more to fight DRC corruption, child labour practices – by David McKay (MiningMX.com – November 18, 2019)

Homepage

COMPANIES mining copper and cobalt in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have been urged to do more to fight corruption and child labour, said Bloomberg News citing a report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation & Development (OECD).

Companies should be “proactive about addressing risks, for example by improving working conditions in artisanal mining or taking action to address corruption in their supply chains,” Ben Katz, co-author of the OECD report, said in a statement.

Citing the US Geological Survey, the newswire said the DRC was the world’s largest cobalt producer and the fifth largest producer of copper. As demand for the two minerals has soared with the growth of the electronic and electric-vehicle industries, so have worries about the conditions under which they are mined, it said. Continue Reading →

Health and safety bigger risks to artisanal miners that conflict minerals — report – by Cecilia Jamasmie (Mining.com – October 22, 2019)

https://www.mining.com/

Risks related to occupational health and safety are more prevalent than human rights abuses and conflict financing among global artisanal and small-scale miners (ASM), a new study by German supply chain auditor RCS Global Group has found.

The group’s Better Mining platform, piloted as ‘Better Cobalt’ on a cobalt supply chain from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) revealed that 26% of all registered incidents in the past year were related to health and safety issues, while only 13% had to do rights abuses and minerals financing conflict.

The Berlin-based organization used mobile technology to gather data from from five separate ASM sites in DRC and Rwanda, focusing on informal and small miners digging for cobalt, copper and the so-called 3TG (gold, tin, tantalum and tungsten). Continue Reading →

Cobalt, Congo and the responsible investor – by Martin Grosskope (Globe and Mail – October 10, 2019)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

Martin Grosskopf is a vice-president and portfolio manager at AGF Investments Inc.

There is a dark side to a brighter, cleaner and smarter future. It starts with lithium-ion batteries that contain cobalt, the material needed to power our new technologies, giving way to the 21st century’s version of the great gold rush as global giants such as China move to wrest control of the world’s supply.

These batteries are used in everything from our smartphones and laptops to electric vehicles (EVs) and have earned the “blood batteries” moniker because they are sometimes mined by children and other locals in unsafe conditions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The misery in which these so-called artisanal miners work, and their rising death toll, has thrust cobalt mining in the Congo into the international spotlight. The issue is also raising vexing questions for those with an interest in responsible investing. Continue Reading →

COLUMN-Why the cobalt market needs Congo’s “illegal” miners – by Andy Home (Reuters U.S. – July 12, 2019)

https://www.reuters.com/

LONDON, July 12 (Reuters) – Cobalt is back in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. The death last month of 43 artisan miners at the Kamoto Copper Company KOV concession in the Democratic Republic of Congo has refocused attention on the human cost of producing what is a key input into electric vehicle (EV) batteries.

The KOV concession is majority-owned by a subsidiary of trading and mining group Glencore. The official response to the incident – sending the army to clear around 20,000 “illegal” miners from the area around the mine – merely underlines the problematic nature of the world’s dependence on Congo for its supply of cobalt.

The country accounted for around 64% of global mined production last year, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS). The latest incidents will do nothing to reassure automotive companies about the future stability of sustainable supply and will incentivise them further to try and reduce the amount of cobalt in EV batteries. Continue Reading →

India’s top court sides with indigenous people over illegal mining fallout – by Rina Chandran (Thomson Reuters Foundation – July 4, 2019)

https://uk.reuters.com/

BANGKOK, July 4 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Indigenous people in an Indian state must be protected from illegal mining and the pollution it causes, the country’s top court ruled, providing a “historic” victory to tribal groups fighting for better rights over land and natural resources.

Indigenous people, who own much of the land in northeastern Meghalaya state, have full rights over the land and any resources on it, and only they can grant permission for mining after the correct permits are obtained, the Supreme Court ruled.

The state government had “entirely failed to stop illegal mining, which is the cause of degradation and pollution”, and must end illegal mining and rehabilitate the environment, it said on Wednesday. Continue Reading →

Why Japan and South Korea Still Spar Over History – by Youkyung Lee (July 1, 2019)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Japan’s colonial rule over the Korean Peninsula ended more than seven decades ago yet that legacy still roils everyday politics on both sides of the strait.

South Korea and Japan, major trading partners and both U.S. military allies, have been at loggerheads over what constitutes proper contrition and compensation for two groups of Koreans: those conscripted to work in factories and mines that supplied Japan’s imperial war machine, and those euphemistically called “comfort women” who were forced to work in military brothels.

Japan contends all claims were settled under a 1965 bilateral treaty and a fund set up in 2015. Seoul argues Japan hasn’t atoned enough. Some of Japan’s largest companies and the emperor himself have been dragged into the fray.

1. What are the roots of the forced labor dispute? Continue Reading →

Child labour in mining, poor working conditions take centre stage in inter-regional meeting – by APO (Business Ghana – May 30, 2019)

https://www.businessghana.com/

Experts and global actors from Africa, Asia and South America gathered in Manila to address child labour and poor working conditions in artisanal and small-scale gold mines (ASGM).

The first-ever Inter-regional Knowledge-Sharing Forum on Child Labour and Working Conditions in ASGM of the International Labour Organization (ILO) served as a platform for dialogue.

Governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations, international non-government organizations, civil society organizations, miners’ groups and their communities, and ASGM supply chain actors joined the forum.

Countries represented include Colombia, Congo, Cote d’ Ivoire, France, Ghana, Guyana, Indonesia, Italy, Mali, Mongolia, Nigeria, Philippines, Thailand, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States. Continue Reading →