Tech giant, Apple announced it has temporarily stopped buying cobalt mined by hand in Congo.
This announcement was made after Sky released an investigative report revealing children being exploited in cobalt mines in the African nation. The video, which went viral, showed young children as young as four working in Congolese mines where cobalt is extracted for smartphones.
According to the report, ‘the mineral is an essential component of batteries for smartphones and laptops, making billions for multinationals such as Apple and Samsung, yet many of those working to extract it are earning as little as 8 pence a day in desperately dangerous conditions.’
Although Apple may not directly contract underage labourers in Congo, it utilizes minerals from Zhejiang Hauyou Cobalt Company, a Chinese firm that is the largest buyer of artisanal cobalt in Congo.
“We have been working with Huayou on a program that will verify individual artisanal mines, according to our standards, Apple said in a statement, “and these mines will re-enter our supply chain when we are confident the appropriate protections are in place.”
Apple also revealed that it is hesitant in completely cutting off dealings with cobalt miners in Congo because it appreciates that mining provides vital income for families and communities in Congo.
This is not the first time that Apple is being accused of exploiting labour. In 2004, the BBC released a report highlighting Apple’s poor treatment of workers in Chinese factories.
According to the report, “One undercover reporter, working in a factory making parts for Apple computers, had to work 18 days in a row despite repeated requests for a day off.”