Several big companies named in US lawsuit over Congolese child cobalt mining deaths

Companies accused of aiding and abetting in the death and serious injury of children

In late 2019, Apple, Google, Dell, Microsoft and Tesla were named as defendants in a lawsuit by human rights firm International Rights Advocates on behalf of 14 parents and children from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The lawsuit argues that the children worked for mines that were owned by mining companies which then sold the cobalt to a third party – often a European company, which then sold it the accused US tech companies.

Cobalt is a major component of lithium-ion batteries found in virtually every rechargeable electronic gadget. As a raw material cobalt is mined primarily as a by-product of nickel and copper mining. As the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the top producer of cobalt worldwide (two-thirds of the world’s cobalt) there is no way to dispense it.

Accordingly, it’s necessary to find a way to make mining more responsible and the supply chain more transparent by adhering to the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains. Therefore, tools such as iPoint’s electronic Labor Rights Template (eLRT) are important, enabling companies to check compliance with global legislation on human trafficking and modern slavery, including child labour, in their supply chain.

For further information and statements of the companies, click here.

Learn more about eLRT here.