Technological giants sued for the deaths of children in cobalt mines


African families are demanding compensation.

Cobalt is a very important raw material in the technological world. It is used primarily in lithium-ion batteries that power smartphones, laptops and other electronic devices. Therefore, the demand for this metal is very high. This huge demand is unfortunately associated not only with the risk of consuming element deposits at a very fast pace, but also with many irregularities in terms of legal employment in mining.

Cobalt is mainly mined in Africa, and in particular in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the world's largest deposits of this metal occur. It is widely known, however, that children work in many cobalt mines in this country without helmets or any security measures. It is hard to imagine that this fact should not be known by the technological giants to whom the extracted cobalt is supplied, and yet they try to give such an impression.

The international rights organization International Rights Advocates has filed a lawsuit on behalf of several Congolese families in which accuses Alphabet, Apple, Dell, Microsoft and Tesla for the death or disability of children forced to work in mines. Some of the minors died as a result of being buried after collapsing of the mine walls, others as a result of complications and injuries.

According to the content of the lawsuit, these companies were fully aware that children were also mined in cobalt mines in the Congolese mines, and in very dangerous conditions, for a dollar, up to two days. According to International Rights Advocates, these companies have the technical capabilities and means that enable them to supervise the network of suppliers of the raw material in question, and yet they do not use them.

cobalt mine 2
Source: International Rights Advocates

Alphabet, Apple, Dell, Microsoft and Tesla receive cobalt supplies from, among others, the Brussels company Umicore. She, in turn, buys cobalt from the British company Glencore, which owns some of the Congolese mines. Interestingly, Glencore issued a statement in which she asserts that she does not tolerate any form of child abuse. A spokesman for Dell in an interview with Reuters said in turn that Dell was unaware of the exploitation of children while acquiring cobalt. The other companies involved in the case are silent.

International Rights Advocates demands compensation for families of deceased and injured children. In addition, the organization wants to provide medical care for these injured children. Another postulate is for Alphabet, Apple, Dell, Microsoft and Tesla to take decisive action to reduce environmental pollution in places where cobalt is mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Although so far International Rights Advocates sues only the five companies listed, the organization is also looking at other technology companies. Its representatives even expect that the number of companies listed in the lawsuit will increase.

Source: International Rights Advocates