Archive | Mining Child and Slave Labour/Prostitution – Historical and Current

Cobalt price jump underscores reliance on metal for electric vehicle batteries – by Henry Sanderson (Financial Times – April 30, 2021)

https://www.ft.com/

The price of cobalt has jumped 40 per cent so far this year on persistent demand from electric vehicle makers, underlining the challenge in reducing reliance on the rare metal to make batteries for longer-range cars.

Electric carmakers including Tesla and Volkswagen have pledged over the coming years to reduce their use of cobalt, which is largely dependent on mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo, deterred by human rights abuses in the supply chain and by the high price.

Prices for the world’s most expensive battery metal hit their highest level since January 2019 in March — at $25 a pound — and currently hover around $21, according to data company Fastmarkets. Analysts at RBC say they expect cobalt prices to reach $28.50 a pound this year, and rise to $40 in 2024 as alternatives are expected to remain scarce. Continue Reading →

Growth in Burkina Faso gold mining fuels human trafficking – by Sam Mednick (Associated Press/Minneapolis Star Tribune – April 30, 2021)

https://www.startribune.com/

SECACO, Burkina Faso — For months, human traffickers beat and drugged Blessing, hauling the 27-year-old from one gold mine encampment to the next, where each night she was forced to sleep with dozens of men for less than $2 a person.

The madam who lured Blessing to the landlocked West African nation of Burkina Faso with promises of a hair salon job, threatened to kill her if she tried to run away. “Nobody comes to your rescue,” said Blessing, wiping tears from her cheeks during a recent interview.

In December 2019, while the madam was away, Blessing finally got the courage to escape. With the help of local residents, she and six other women left the encampment and walked to safety, ultimately ending up in a United Nations transit center for migrants in the capital city of Ouagadougou. Blessing’s experience in the gold mining encampments is not unique. Continue Reading →

Rihanna Fenty Beauty brand under lens in India for ‘using mica from mines hiring child labour’ – by Arun Anand (The Print India – February 5, 2021)

The Print India

NGO Legal Rights Observatory has filed a complaint with the national child rights protection body, alleging Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty brand uses ‘blood mica’ from Jharkhand mines.

New Delhi: International pop star Rihanna, who created a stir in India by tweeting in support of the protesting farmers, is now under the scanner of the National Commission For Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) for allegedly using mica from Indian mines — where “child labourers work in dire conditions” — in her cosmetics brand ‘Fenty Beauty’.

NCPCR chairman Priyank Kanoongo told The Print they are looking into the matter and “would do the needful”.

This comes after the NCPCR received a complaint Friday from NGO Legal Rights Observatory (LRO). Continue Reading →

Pandemic drives more people to risk lives in India’s illegal mica mines (Deccan Herald/Reuters – January 6, 2021)

https://www.deccanherald.com/

When India went into lockdown last March and Tota Rai lost his cleaning job in the textile hub of Surat, he knew working in the illegal mica mining industry back home was his only option.

Rai, 45, and his three sons – two adults and one teenager – now spend their days scavenging for scraps of the valued mineral used to put the sparkle into make-up and car paint and in electronics to sell to local traders in eastern Jharkhand state.

But as the pandemic drives more families to mica, residents, researchers and campaigners have voiced concerns over failings by the government and private sector to regulate the often fatal trade sourced from abandoned mines and to create other jobs. Continue Reading →

Child labour, toxic leaks: the price we could pay for a greener future – by Robin McKie (The Guardian – January 3, 2021)

https://www.theguardian.com/

The battle to stave off Earth’s looming climate crisis is driving engineers to develop hosts of new green technologies. Wind and solar plants are set to replace coal and gas power stations, while electric cars oust petrol and diesel vehicles from our roads. Slowly our dependance on fossil fuels is set to diminish and so ease global heating.

But scientists warn there will be an environmental price to pay for this drive to create a world powered by green technology. Prospecting for the materials to construct these devices, then mining them, could have very serious ecological consequences and major impacts on biodiversity, they say.

“The move towards net zero carbon emissions is going to create new stresses on our planet, at least in the short term,” said Prof Richard Herrington, head of earth sciences at the Natural History Museum, London. “We are going to have to learn how to consider profit and loss with regard to ecosystems just as we do now when we are considering economic issues.” Continue Reading →

Along Russia’s ‘Road of Bones,’ Relics of Suffering and Despair – by Matilda Coleman (UpNewsInfo.com – November 22, 2020)

https://upnewsinfo.com/

The Kolyma Highway in the Russian Far East once delivered tens of thousands of prisoners to the work camps of Stalin’s gulag. The ruins of that cruel era are still visible today.

The prisoners, hacking their way through insect-infested summer swamps and winter ice fields, brought the road, and the road then brought yet more prisoners, delivering a torrent of slave labor to the gold mines and prison camps of Kolyma, the most frigid and deadly outpost of Stalin’s gulag.

Their path became known as the “road of bones,” a track of gravel, mud and, for much of the year, ice that stretches 1,260 miles west from the Russian port city of Magadan on the Pacific Ocean inland to Yakutsk, the capital of the Yakutia region in eastern Siberia. Continue Reading →

Canadian miner Nevsun Resources settles with African workers over case alleging human-rights abuses – by Niall McGee (Globe and Mail – October 29, 2020)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

Canadian base-metals miner Nevsun Resources Ltd. has reached a settlement with a trio of Eritrean workers who had sued the company for alleged human-rights abuses during the construction of a mine in the African country.

The development comes in the wake of a Supreme Court of Canada ruling earlier this year that Nevsun could be sued in Canada for alleged infractions abroad – a landmark decision that broadened liability for all Canadian corporations with international operations.

“This settlement speaks to the incredible courage of the mine workers who came forward with their horrific experiences,” Ketty Nivyabandi, Secretary-General of Amnesty International Canada, said in a release. Continue Reading →

Cobalt blues: In Congo the little guys are jailed for stealing minerals (The Economist – October 17, 2020)

https://www.economist.com/

When cobalt prices soared from 2016, young men from all over Congo flocked to the south of the country to dig the stuff up. Demand for the metal, used in smartphones and electric cars, was driven by carmakers needing around 10kg of it per vehicle.

(Phone batteries, by contrast, require just a few grams each.) Some of these young men set up camp in the village of Kawama, cobbling together their huts with planks and sheets of tarpaulin.

The village feels less hopeful nowadays. Barefoot children in rags chase each other around piles of smouldering wood, which residents burn to make charcoal. Cobalt prices plummeted in 2018 after the market was flooded and companies dawdled over electric-car designs. Continue Reading →

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 →