Archive | Mining Child and Slave Labour – Historical and Current

Forced labour lawsuit against Vancouver mining company can proceed – by Mike Laanela and Farrah Merali (CBC News British Columbia – October 07, 2016)

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/

The B.C. Supreme Court has given the go-ahead to three refugees to proceed with a civil lawsuit against a Vancouver-based company they accuse of using forced labour in the construction of an East African mine.

The lawsuit filed by three former Eritrean conscripts in B.C.’s Supreme Court accuse Nevsun Resources of being “an accomplice to the use of forced labour, crimes against humanity and other human rights abuses at the Bisha mine.”

The Vancouver-based miner had argued that the case should be dismissed and that any lawsuit should be heard in Eritrea, not Canada. But Justice Patrice Abrioux rejected that argument, concluding “there is a real risk that the plaintiffs could not be provided with justice in Eritrea.” Continue Reading →

THE COBALT PIPELINE – by Jorge Ribas (Washington Post – September 30, 2016)

https://www.washingtonpost.com/

Tracing the path from deadly hand-dug mines in Congo to consumers’ phones and laptops

The sun was rising over one of the richest mineral deposits on Earth, in one of the poorest countries, as Sidiki Mayamba got ready for work. Mayamba is a cobalt miner. And the red-dirt savanna stretching outside his door contains such an astonishing wealth of cobalt and other minerals that a geologist once described it as a “scandale geologique.”

This remote landscape in southern Africa lies at the heart of the world’s mad scramble for cheap cobalt, a mineral essential to the rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that power smartphones, laptops and electric vehicles made by companies such as Apple, Samsung and major automakers.

But Mayamba, 35, knew nothing about his role in this sprawling global supply chain. He grabbed his metal shovel and broken-headed hammer from a corner of the room he shares with his wife and child. He pulled on a dust-stained jacket. Continue Reading →

Child labor taints production of batteries for electric carmakers, Amnesty says – by Lin Taylor (Reuters U.S. – September 29, 2016)

http://www.reuters.com/

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Leading electric carmakers may be unwittingly using child labor to produce batteries for vehicles that have grown in popularity for using clean energy aimed at limiting global warming, Amnesty International said on Friday.

The human rights watchdog said cobalt used in lithium ion batteries for electric vehicles, phones and laptops could come from mines in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) that use child labor. It accused carmakers including GM, Renault-Nissan, Fiat Chrysler, Volkswagen, Daimler and Tesla of failing to map the supply of cobalt from mines in Congo to smelters and on to battery-makers.

As a result, electric cars sold across the globe could contain traces of the metal produced each year by informal Congolese mines without companies knowing, the group said. Continue Reading →

[Nevsun Resources] We were forced to work at Western-run mine, say migrants who fled Eritrea – by Allison Martell and Edmund Blair (Reuters U.S. – September 26, 2016)

http://www.reuters.com/

A Canadian company operating in one of Africa’s poorest countries faces compensation claims from some workers. They say they were military conscripts and suffered harsh conditions.

TORONTO/ASMARA – Bemnet Negash never got to say a proper goodbye to his family. In February 2006, government officials arrived at his school in the highlands of Eritrea and put him and his classmates on a bus to a military training camp. He was 20 years old, and still at school because a childhood illness had interrupted his education.

Bemnet’s father heard what was happening and rushed to the school. “He tried to pass to me my medication and some money through a window of the bus on which I was being taken away, but it was not possible,” said Bemnet in an affidavit filed with a Canadian court last year.

For much of the next five years, Bemnet toiled for the Eritrean national service, a massive conscription program instituted by the country’s autocratic ruler in the mid-1990s. The conscripts become not just soldiers, but an army of cheap labor, forced to work for years for little pay, according to the United Nations. The U.N. has said the program is “similar to slavery in its effects” – a claim the Eritrean government rejects. Continue Reading →

Exclusive: Jharkhand to crush ‘mica mafia’ by legalising mines to stop child worker deaths – by Nita Bhalla (Reuters India – August 8, 2016)

http://in.reuters.com/

NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Authorities in Jharkhand will crack down on “mica mafia” by starting to legalise some mica mines, a senior government official said, after a Thomson Reuters Foundation investigation revealed the cover-up of child deaths in illegal mining.

A three-month investigation in the mica-producing state of Jharkhand found that a flourishing black market had resulted in at least seven children being killed since June, mining for the prized mineral which adds the sparkle to make-up and car paint.

But the deaths went unreported as victims’ families and mine operators feared it could end the illegal mining of mica, the only source of income in some of India’s poorest regions. Continue Reading →

Global firms beef up investigations of Indian mica suppliers after exposé on child deaths – by Nita Bhalla and Rina Chandran (Daily Mail/Reuters – August 4, 2016)

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/

DELHI/MUMBAI, India, Aug 4 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – M ajor global companies buying the mineral mica from India vowed on Thursday to beef up inspections of their suppliers for child labour after a Thomson Reuters Foundation investigation revealed children were dying in illegal mines.

A three-month investigation in the mica-producing states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh found at least seven children have been killed since June mining for mica, the valued mineral that puts a sparkle in make-up and car paint.

These deaths, feared to be just the tip of the iceberg, have gone unreported as victims’ impoverished families and mine operators do not want to end the illegal mining in abandoned mines and protected forests – often their only source of income. Continue Reading →

Thomson Reuters Foundation Investigation | Child workers trapped in mica mines – by Nita Bhalla, Anuradha Nagaraj and Rina Chandran (Thomson Reuters Foundation/Hindustan Times – August 3, 2016)

http://www.hindustantimes.com/

In the depths of India’s illegal mica mines, where children as young as five work alongside adults, lurks a dark, hidden secret — the cover-up of child deaths with seven killed in the past two months, a Thomson Reuters Foundation investigation has revealed.

Investigations over three months in the major mica producing states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh found child labour rife, with small hands ideal to pick and sort the valued mineral that puts the sparkle in cosmetics and car paint.

But interviews with workers and local communities discovered children were not only risking their health by working in abandoned “ghost” mines off official radars, but they were dying in the unregulated, crumbling mines, with seven killed since June. Continue Reading →

‘Fireflies In The Abyss’ Is A Sobering Look At The Lives Of Meghalaya Coal Miners – by Suprateek Chatterjee (HuffPost India – July 7, 2016)

http://www.huffingtonpost.in/

Filmmaker Chandrashekhar Reddy recalls the first time he stepped inside a coal mining pit. It was in mid-2012, near Lad Rymbai, Meghalaya. It was pitch-black, of course, and he could feel the oxygen levels falling as he descended down a slippery wooden ladder, terrified that he might fall off.

When he got to the bottom, he realised he lacked the flexibility to actually navigate the tunnels, the so-called ‘rat holes’, which are barely big enough for a fully grown adult to crawl through. “I had to be put in a cart and wheeled around in turns by some of the other men working there,” he said, in a conversation with HuffPost India.
“Despite the lack of oxygen, I saw some of them smoking in there, which, from my knowledge, is quite dangerous, as every mining activity results in the release of methane, which is flammable.” Continue Reading →

Lacking proof, Mitsubishi unwilling to apologize to Canadian POWs [Mine slave labour] – by Iain Marlow (Globe and Mail – July 24, 2015)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

On Christmas morning, 1944, 23-year-old Corporal George Peterson of the Winnipeg Grenadiers was told by his Japanese guards that he wouldn’t have to go down the Mitsubishi-owned coal mine that day.

Mr. Peterson, who had already spent three grueling years as a prisoner of war, said it looked as though the POWs were about to get a break from the slave-like working conditions. The guards first dragged out a fir tree, then brought out extra food for the famished prisoners, including riceballs and beer.

“They lined us up behind the table and took a picture,” says Mr. Peterson, now 94. But then “they said we could go back down the mine. … When we came up from the mine at about 5 p.m., the guards were laughing at us, saying the food was pretty good. We laughed right back, because we were trying not to let them know how much it hurt.”

Nearly 70 years after the end of the Second World War, Mitsubishi Materials Corp. has begun to issue historic apologies to POWs – but it has not yet apologized to Canadians. Continue Reading →

Mitsubishi Materials apologizes for using U.S. POWs as slave labor – by Mariko Lochridge (Reuters U.S. – July 20, 2015)

http://www.reuters.com/

LOS ANGELES – Construction company Mitsubishi Materials Corp (5711.T) became the first major Japanese company to apologize for using captured American soldiers as slave laborers during World War Two, offering remorse on Sunday for “the tragic events in our past.”

A company representative offered the apology on behalf of its predecessor, Mitsubishi Mining Co, at a special ceremony at a Los Angeles museum.

“Today we apologize remorsefully for the tragic events in our past,” Mitsubishi Materials Senior Executive Officer Hikaru Kimura told an audience at the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles.

In all, about 12,000 American prisoners of war were put into forced labor by the Japanese government and private companies seeking to fill a wartime labor shortage, of whom more than 1,100 died, said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, an associate dean at the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

Six prisoner-of-war camps in Japan were linked to the Mitsubishi conglomerate during the war, and they held 2,041 prisoners, more than 1,000 of whom were American, according to nonprofit research center Asia Policy Point. Continue Reading →