A human rights legal organization named International Rights Advocate which represents victims of child mining filed a lawsuit against several tech giants. This is the first case of this kind against these companies.
The companies include Google’s parent company Alphabet, Apple, Microsoft, Dell, and Tesla. The legal organization claimed that these companies were benefiting from the labors of children in cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) who work so hard thereby risking their lives in the process.
An investigation into the mines to find out the methods used to extract the mineral discovered lithium-ion batteries necessary for all smartphones, electric vehicles, and a countless number of other devices.
For a meager pay of $2 a day, children were exposed to 12 working hours digging and transporting sacks of rocks rich in cobalt in a destructive struggle for this invaluable commodity.
Close to 67% of the current cobalt supply in the world gets its root from Southern DRC which is a county known for deep corruption and abject poverty. A villager said that “Kids go to work in the mines when they are not in school, from 10 years of age”.
International Rights Advocate on behalf of 14 plaintiffs (names withheld) which include the families of six child miners who died on the job and the families of the remaining eight who suffered several injuries brought the lawsuit to the tech giants.
The legal complaint states that boys are made to work under Stone Age conditions for peanuts and at great risk just to provide cobalt that these “high-tech” companies need.
The hundreds of billions of dollars amassed by the tech giants each year would be impossible without the tons of cobalt mined in the DRC. This is clear in industry statistics.
Full of concern that customers will stop using their products because of these allegations, tech giants have been making promises for years to stop their supply chain of unregulated cobalt mining operations in the DRC.
Elon Musk even tweeted that there will be no cobalt present at all in the next generation of Tesla cars.
Spokespersons from each of the tech companies have started that investigations are being made as regards the allegations in the lawsuit.
They all claim to have no hand in the involuntary labor, recruiting, and practice of child labor, at least not intentionally.
Terrence Collingsworth, the head of the International Rights Advocate in Washington stated that there is an NGO on the ground that is unnamed because of fear of the companies and government.
He further stated that the kids were brought to him in an undisclosed location for security reasons. He, however, strongly feels that they could win against the tech giants.