Archive | Mining Child and Slave Labour – Historical and Current

Mines Linked to Child Labor Are Thriving in Rush for Car Batteries – by Thomas Wilson and Jack Farchy (Bloomberg News – February 19, 2018)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

The appetite for electric cars is driving a boom in small-scale cobalt production in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where some mines have been found to be dangerous and employ child labor.

Production from so-called artisanal mines probably rose by at least half last year, according to the estimates of officials at three of the biggest international suppliers of the metal, who asked not to be named because they’re not authorized to speak on the matter.

State-owned miner Gecamines estimates artisanal output accounted for as much as a quarter of the country’s total production in 2017. That’s a concern for carmakers from Volkswagen AG to Tesla Inc., who are seeking to secure long-term supplies of the battery ingredient but don’t want to be enmeshed in a scandal about unethical mining practices. Continue Reading →

Exclusive – London Metal Exchange aims to ban metal sourced with child labour – by Pratima Desai and Tom Daly (Reuters U.K. – February 13, 2018)

https://uk.reuters.com/

LONDON/BEIJING (Reuters) – The London Metal Exchange could remove companies from its list of approved metal suppliers if they fall short of industry standards following an outcry about cobalt mined by children in Africa, three sources said.

The exchange will issue principles for responsible sourcing in coming months and producers will have to show their metal meets industry standards that conform with the new LME guidelines, the sources familiar with the matter said.

“The LME has to be policeman. It can do that by making sure industry standards on child labour and conflict minerals are being met, that there is auditing and certification,” a source on an LME committee said. Continue Reading →

Top jewellery brands failing to ensure gold, diamonds mined ethically, Human Rights Watch says – by Henry Sanderson (Financial Times – February 8, 2018)

https://www.ft.com/

Some of the world’s leading jewellery companies are failing to ensure that their gold and diamonds are mined ethically, according to Human Rights Watch, despite two decades of efforts to clean up the industry.

While the world has made progress limiting the flow of diamonds linked to conflict, so-called blood diamonds, leading brands such as Boodles, Rolex, Cartier and Bulgari are failing to do enough to show that all their gems are not linked to broader human rights abuses, the New York-based group said.

“An increasing number of customers want to be sure the jewellery they buy has not fuelled human rights abuses,” Juliane Kippenberg, associate child rights director at Human Rights Watch, said. Continue Reading →

A small town in Quebec could power the next wave of electric cars – by Ashley Renders (Vice News – January 30, 2018)

https://news.vice.com/

But Sudol doubts recycling would satisfy the demand for batteries.
The global population is growing and people want cell phones, cars,
urban transportation and a higher standard of living—all of this
is metal intensive, says Sudol. If we can’t dig for these metals
in a place like Quebec, which has strong restoration policies and
labour laws, “then where on Earth are we going to get these metals?”
he asks.

In other words, as long as car companies and cell phone companies
are clamoring for battery metals, Sudol sees only two options:
child miners in the DRC or rule of law in Quebec.

A small town in Northern Quebec could hold the keys to a future where electric vehicles are the norm.

A Toronto-based mining company called RNC Minerals Corporation wants to build a “battery metals” mine near Amos, Quebec, a town of less than 13,000 people that sits on the largest untouched deposit of nickel sulphide and cobalt in the world, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data cited by a company report. Continue Reading →

Modern slavery: the true cost of cobalt mining (Hermes Investment Management – January 16, 2018)

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Investment capital permeates the global economy, underpinning businesses and supply chains across regions and industries. We believe that investors should not only be aware of the potential for their capital to generate returns but its impact on society and the environment. One such sustainability concern is cobalt mining.

Thousands of artisanal miners dig by hand in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Children, too. They have no industrial tools, no protective clothing, no hard hats, not even facemasks to shield toxic dust or shoes. They are searching for cobalt, the rare-earth metal powering the mobile revolution.

Cobalt is an essential component of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. The end product may be in your pocket, on your desk, in your garage, or even in your investment portfolio. It powers most electronic gadgets, including smartphones and laptops, and electric vehicles. Continue Reading →

Stalin’s legacy lives on in city that slaves built – archive, 1994 – by James Meek (The Guardian – December 29, 2017)

https://www.theguardian.com/

At the end of the second world war, as Europe was preparing to celebrate its victory over fascism, the Soviet authorities arrested an entire school of teenage girls from western Ukraine, named them enemies of the people, took them to an Arctic concentration camp and forced them to expend their youth in slave labour.

Half a century later Galina Skopyuk is still there. She is a prisoner of circumstances now rather than a prisoner of Stalin, but beginning her 49th winter in a land where the winters are nine months long is hard. “I’m always hoping to leave. I don’t want to die here. But I don’t have any chance,” she said.

Mrs Skopyuk is one of the few living links between the present-day city of Norilsk and the dark years of its creation, starting in 1935, when Stalin willed thousands of political prisoners hither to claw a city out of the tundra in a metal-rich volcanic crater. Continue Reading →

Norilsk, Stalin’s Siberian Hell, Thrives in Spite Of Hideous Legacy – by Robert G. Kaiser (Washington Post – August 29, 2001)

https://www.washingtonpost.com/

Is there any stranger human habitation on Earth than this?

In Norilsk, 200 miles above the Arctic Circle, the sun does not rise for three months a year, the winter temperatures remain under 30 degrees below zero, and the air is, literally, the dirtiest on the globe. Yet there is a full-blown city of 230,000 here, whose citizens are fierce local patriots with a romantic sense of their own uniqueness.

They live in a place created by zeks, political prisoners who populated Joseph Stalin’s gulag — perhaps 100,000, or even 200,000 died in its building; the exact number is lost or buried in still-sealed archives. They were inmates in an unimaginable chamber of horrors, a community of prison camps designed to create nickel and copper industries, and to kill people. It succeeded impressively on both counts.

Modern Norilsk is populated by descendants of those prisoners, among many others, and the city remembers its horrific past. This is unusual in Russia, where forgetting is easier. On the busy streets of Norilsk in August, with pretty women on parade and children chasing each other on bikes and in-line skates, that past seems so remote as to be unreachable. Continue Reading →

Exclusive – In search of sparkle: is corporate inaction on mica condemning Indian children to death? – by Nita Bhalla (Reuters U.S. – December 19, 2017)

https://www.reuters.com/

GIRIDIH, India (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Since 12-year-old Laxmi Kumari was buried alive in a mica mine eight months ago, her family’s grief has turned to despair on realizing promises by global companies to end child labor in the mines in eastern India have so far led to nothing.

Just over a year ago, a Thomson Reuters Foundation investigation found children in India were dying in the depths of crumbling, illegal mines for the prized mineral that puts the sparkle in make-up and car paint – but their deaths covered up.

The discovery that seven children had died in two months alone prompted pledges by multinationals sourcing mica from India to clean up their supply chains, and state authorities vowed to accelerate plans to legalize and regulate the sector. Continue Reading →

‘Cobalt for cobalt’s sake’: Electric vehicle boom changing the equation for a mining byproduct – by Geoff Zochodne (Financial Post – November 30, 2017)

http://business.financialpost.com/

Investors have renewed their interest in an historic Canadian cobalt play amid a recent boom brought on by the adoption of electric vehicles.

Toronto-based First Cobalt Corp. has seen its stock price double in value since announcing last week that it had received shareholder backing for a three-way merger with fellow juniors Cobaltech Mining Inc. and Cobalt One Ltd. The deal includes past-producing mines near Cobalt, Ont., a town named after the metal and located approximately 500 kilometres north of Toronto.

With its acquisitions expected to close in the coming week or so, First Cobalt says it now controls 45 per cent of the land in the so-called “Cobalt Camp,” in addition to owning the only permitted cobalt refinery on the continent that can produce battery-grade materials. While the camp is still in its exploratory stage, shares of First Cobalt are up nearly 280 per cent for the year, closing at $1.47 Wednesday. Continue Reading →

‘New era’: Canadian mining industry closely watching three civil cases alleging human rights abuses – by Douglas Quan (National Post – November 28, 2017)

http://nationalpost.com/

A trio of civil cases winding through the courts signal a breakthrough in efforts to hold Canadian-based mining companies accountable on home turf when they’re accused of violations abroad, human rights and legal observers say.

Historically, Canadian judges have been inclined to send such cases back to the jurisdictions where the alleged abuses occurred. But the three pending cases — two in British Columbia and one in Ontario — show that the legal landscape is shifting.

“Courts are now willing to hear these cases,” says Penelope Simons, a law professor at the University of Ottawa. “They’re not trying to punt them back to other places. That’s an important thing.” Continue Reading →

Cobalt Producer to Tackle Child Labor Concerns With Supply Probe – by Mark Burton (Bloomberg News – November 23, 2017)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Chinese cobalt refiner Yantai Cash Industrial Co. will demand suppliers show that their raw materials aren’t produced with child labor after the London Metal Exchange set a deadline for companies that ship to its warehouses to spell out efforts to combat the problem.

Shandong-based Yantai is working with China’s Chamber of Commerce of Metals, Minerals and Chemicals Importers and Exporters, and shipping services firm RCF Capacity Planners to audit its supply chain, Liu Xiaohan, a manager at the company, said by phone. The producer delivered metal to LME warehouses after gaining an export license in June.

“They will help us set up a responsible supply chain system,” Liu said. ‘‘We are going to set up a code of conduct and we will ask our suppliers to clarify the source of raw materials we buy.” Continue Reading →

Vancouver mining company faces trial over slavery claims – by Ian Mulgrew (Vancouver Sun – November 21, 2017)

http://vancouversun.com/

Canadian companies have been put on notice by the B.C. Court of Appeal that they can be held accountable in the nation’s courts for human rights abuses committed in foreign countries.

In a ruling with wide implications, the three-justice division dismissed a B.C. firm’s attempts to block a suit by African workers who say they were forced to toil as slaves at a gold mine 60 per cent owned by Nevsun Resources Ltd. and 40 per cent by Eritrean state companies.

“It’s a very important win because it means the case can proceed and Nevsun will have to answer the case on the merits, meaning they are going to have to respond to the allegations they were complicit in the use of forced labour in the building of that mine,” explained Joe Fiorante, a lawyer who represented the refugees. Continue Reading →

Darker side of electric cars in spotlight – by Angela Jameson (The National – November 19, 2017)

https://www.thenational.ae/

While EV emissions are good news for the planet the materials used to produce them are rasing concerns

Momentum is fast building behind electric vehicles as countries round the world move to reduce use of petrol and diesel for transport. This summer France and the UK said they would ban combustion engines by 2040 and China has said it is studying such a move.

Volvo, now a Swedish-Chinese company, says every car it launches from 2019 will be either fully or partly electric. Volvo’s announcement this year was greeted as the first serious challenge to Tesla, the Californian electric car maker, from mainstream marques.

Analysts at UBS expect global sales of electric vehicles in 2025 to reach 14.2 million units, or 13.7 per cent of the total, compared with under 1 million units, or less than 1 per cent, in 2017. Continue Reading →

Apple leads way in tracing cobalt from Congo, Microsoft lags: Amnesty – by Eric Onstad (Reuters U.S. – November 12, 2017)

http://www.reuters.com/

LONDON (Reuters) – Apple is leading the way in tracing cobalt used in its electronics to ensure the metal has not been mined by children in Democratic Republic of Congo while Microsoft is lagging, Amnesty International said.

Microsoft disagreed with the pressure group’s conclusions published on Wednesday. Congo is by far the world’s biggest producer of cobalt, accounting for more than half of global supplies of the metal, a key ingredient in lithium-ion batteries.

Amnesty, however, says about a fifth of the country’s cobalt production is mined by hand by informal miners including children, often in dangerous conditions. Cobalt has shot to prominence in recent months and its price skyrocketed due to expected growth in demand for electric vehicles powered by lithium-ion batteries. Continue Reading →

The German Auto Industry’s Darkest Secrets – by Melanie Bergermann, Simon Book, Alexander Busch and Martin Seiwert (Handelsblatt Global – November 3, 2017)

https://global.handelsblatt.com/

German consumers purchasing a new electric car may be buying a few extras they didn’t reckon with – such as child labor, corruption and police brutality.

The young man shyly moves his T-shirt down over his belly, hiding the scars from the operation and the exit holes. His fellow South Africans call Mzoxolo Magidiwana, 24, “dead man walking” because he will never recover from the injuries he suffered when police opened fire on him and his fellow workers five years ago. Bullets tore into his stomach and his right arm no longer has any strength; nor can he walk properly anymore.

Mr. Magidiwana was one of the leaders of the 3,000 miners who went on strike on August 12, 2012 to protest poor working conditions and low pay at the Marikana platinum mine some 100 kilometers from Johannesburg in South Africa.

The workers were being paid just €400 ($464) per month for back breaking work. Below ground, they had to contend with constant accidents and dust that made them ill. Above ground, they were breathing the toxic fumes coming out of the platinum smelter. Continue Reading →