Child labor is being used in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to mine cobalt, a mineral used in lithium-ion batteries found in devices from Apple, Samsung, Sony, Microsoft and car manufacturers Daimler and Volkswagen, according to a new report by Amnesty International.

Smart-Battery-Case-Teardown

Children told Amnesty International they worked for up to 12 hours a day in the mines, carrying heavy loads to earn between one and two dollars a day. In 2014 approximately 40,000 children worked in mines across southern DRC, many of them mining cobalt, according to UNICEF.

The report says that local traders buy cobalt from areas with child labor and sell it to Congo Dongfang Mining, a subsidiary of Chinese mineral company Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt Ltd, also known as Huayou Cobalt. Huayou Cobalt then processes and sells the cobalt to three battery component manufacturers -- Toda Hunan Shanshen New Material, Tianjin Bamo Technology and L&F Materal -- who sell to battery makers that claim to supply technology companies like Apple and Samsung.

When Amnesty International contacted the 16 companies listed as customers of those battery makers, one admitted to a connection, four weren't sure, six were investigating the claims and five denied the claim. Cobalt is not a regulated market, according to Amnesty International, and it is not listed as a "conflict" mineral in the United States like the gold, tin and tungsten mined in the DRC.

Apple provided a statement to the BBC, saying that "underage labor is never tolerated in our supply chain and we are proud to have led the industry in pioneering new safeguards." The company also pointed out that it has "rigorous audits" and any supplier found using child labor is forced to fund the worker's safe return home, finance the worker's education, continue to pay the worker's wages and offer him or her a job when he or she reaches the legal age. Apple also said that it is looking into the cobalt charge.

On cobalt specifically it added: "We are currently evaluating dozens of different materials, including cobalt, in order to identify labour and environmental risks as well as opportunities for Apple to bring about effective, scalable and sustainable change."

This isn't the first time one of Apple's suppliers has been found using child labor. In 2013 Apple revealed that it terminated business with one Chinese supplier after finding out that they were using child labor. That same year Apple formed an academic advisory board for its Supplier Responsibility program to assist in creating safe workspaces wherever its products are made.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Top Rated Comments

chabig Avatar
79 months ago
New Investigation Finds Reporters from MacRumors and AppleInsider Use Devices Manufactured With Cobalt Mined by Child Labor
Score: 94 Votes (Like | Disagree)
chabig Avatar
79 months ago
"New Report Says Apple's Battery Suppliers Use Cobalt Mined by Child Labor" just doesn't get the same number of clicks as the honest headline, "New Report Says Battery Suppliers Use Cobalt Mined by Child Labor".
Score: 55 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Gasu E. Avatar
79 months ago

This isn't the first time one of Apple's suppliers has been found using child labor.
Huh? There's nothing in the article about an Apple supplier using child labor. AI claims that cobalt is mined in the DRC using child labor. That cobalt is then sold on the world markets. Apple buys batteries from its suppliers, who manufacture them using cobalt bought on these markets. If it's like any other commodity, there could be any number of intermediaries in the chain. Basically any battery using cobalt would likely have a little bit that was mined using child labor.

The article says:

- there are areas with child labor
- cobalt from these areas is bought from the mines by local traders. Note the article never says definitively that children work in the cobalt mines
- local traders sell it to Congo Dongfan Mining/Huayou Cobalt
- Huayou Cobalt sells the process Cobalt to three battery component makers
- the battery component makers turn the cobalt into components and sell to unnamed battery makers
- these battery makers "claim" to sell to Apple, Samsung, car manufacturers, etc.

Not only are there enough hedging words to make the chain less than definitive, but there are FOUR intermediaries between Apple and the possible child labor.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
dwfaust Avatar
79 months ago
What I find most disingenuous is the fact that Apple always gets these types of headlines... despite the fact that the other manufacturers are also as culpable (or not culpable) as Apple.

In this age low-information, some will read the headline, blame Apple and not bother reading even the first paragraph of the article.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Jax44 Avatar
79 months ago
Child Confict Congo Cobalt Concerns Cook.

Amazon shares up 3%
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TonyC28 Avatar
79 months ago
I found this article about myself:
"Illinois man uses iPhone purchased from Apple which uses a battery made by another company who used parts bought from another company who got their cobalt from child labor."
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

airpodsinear 1

AirPods Save Woman's Life With Feature Everyone Should Know

Friday January 21, 2022 2:13 am PST by
Apple's AirPods have been credited with saving a woman's life after a potentially fatal fall, People reports. When a 60-year-old florist in New Jersey tripped and hit her head in her studio, she lost consciousness and awoke heavily bleeding. With nobody around to call for help, she realized she had her AirPods in, and used a "Hey Siri" command to call 911. An operator was able to stay on the ...
Upcoming Products 2022 Feature

Gurman: Apple Preparing 'Widest Array of New Hardware Products in Its History' for Fall

Sunday January 23, 2022 10:32 am PST by
Apple is working on a number of new products that are set to launch this fall, and Bloomberg's Mark Gurman says that it will be "the widest array" of new devices that Apple has introduced in its history. In his latest "Power On" newsletter, Gurman explains that Apple is working on four new flagship iPhones (iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Max, iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max), an updated low-end Ma...
Questionable Design Decisions

Apple's Most Questionable Design Decisions in Recent Memory

Sunday January 23, 2022 2:59 am PST by
Apple has always emphasized the depth of thought that goes into the design of its products. In the foreword to Designed by Apple in California, a photo book released by the company in 2016, Jony Ive explains how Apple strives "to define objects that appear effortless" and "so simple, coherent and inevitable that there could be no rational alternative." But every once in a while even Apple...
top stories 2022jan22

Top Stories: Spring Apple Event Rumors, Apple Opposes Sideloading, and More

Saturday January 22, 2022 6:00 am PST by
As we roll into the latter half of January, we're starting to hear more about a potential spring Apple event, which is likely to take place in March or April. There are a number of potential announcements on deck, so an event would be a good opportunity for Apple to get them all out there. We've also been going back and forth on some iPhone 14 rumors, and we've taken a look at a number of...
att gigabit internet

AT&T Bringing $180/Month 5-Gigabit Internet to 70 Cities

Monday January 24, 2022 9:20 am PST by
AT&T today announced the launch of upgraded AT&T Fiber plans, which support speeds of up to 5 Gigabits for some customers. There are two separate plans, one "2 GIG" plan and one "5 GIG" plan, available to new and existing AT&T Fiber subscribers. According to AT&T, the new plans are available to nearly 5.2 million customers across 70 metro areas including Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, San...
macbook pro 14 16 2021

Three Months After Launch, Apple Still Struggling to Meet Demand for Redesigned 14-Inch and 16-Inch MacBook Pro

Monday January 24, 2022 7:12 am PST by
Three months after their launch, the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros continue to experience high demand and seemingly short supply, with shipping dates for both models stretching into multiple weeks in several of Apple's key markets. In the United States, the baseline 14-inch MacBook Pro with the M1 Pro chip is estimated to ship in three to four weeks, promising an arrival by at least...
peloton tv workout cardio

Apple Floated as Potential Buyer of Peloton

Friday January 21, 2022 6:11 am PST by
Following months of bleak news about Peloton's "precarious state," including the revelation that it has halted production of its bikes and treadmills, Apple is being floated as a potential buyer of Peloton's troubled fitness business. Yesterday, CNBC reported that Peloton will temporarily stop production of its connected fitness products due to a "significant reduction" in consumer demand, a ...
Spring 2022 Apple Products Feature

New iPad Air, Macs, and iPhone SE With 5G Likely to Be Announced at Apple Event This Spring

Thursday January 20, 2022 8:32 am PST by
Earlier this week, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman tweeted that Apple "will be holding a spring event" to announce a new iPhone SE and other hardware. In a recent edition of his newsletter, Gurman said the event is likely to occur in March or April. Gurman did not elaborate on what "other hardware" will be announced at Apple's purported spring event, but rumors suggest at least four products are...