Apple, Microsoft, And Google Sued For Child Labor Deaths In Cobalt Mines

Karamchand Rameshwar - Dec 23, 2019

Apple, Microsoft, And Google Sued For Child Labor Deaths In Cobalt Mines

Some of world's largest tech companies are embroiled in a new lawsuit involving the deliberate profiteering of child labor in toxic cobalt mines in Africa.

The case was filed in Washington court this week and the plaintiff is NGO International Rights Advocates (IRA). The organization wants Apple, Dell, Microsoft, Tesla, and Alphabet to pay compensation for benefiting from the children working in toxic cobalt mines in Africa.

Apple Samsung Sony Cobalt Child Labour2

Cobalt is an essential component in lithium-ion batteries, which is an important component to power a mobile device. However, the continuous increase in smartphone production in the past 20 years has increased the demand for cobalt. Not to mention the emergence of electric vehicles will certainly make demands for cobalt mining increase dramatically.

In the lawsuit, the IRA said the above technology companies are aiding and abetting with the illegal use of child labor in cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The IRA represents 13 petitioners who remain anonymous. These are all families with children who died or suffered injuries while mining cobalt.


The plaintiffs claim that it was the explosion of cobalt demand that created such a widespread and irresistible cobalt mining by children. Hundreds of children in Congo have been forced to live in a toxic, poor working environment with rudimentary working tools. Especially, they only receive 2 USD / day for mining and cobalt mining, which is equivalent to around 142 rupees.

In response to the allegations, many of those technology companies have shown their strong commitments on this matter.


For example, Apple has confirmed its commitment to always be responsible for its material sources. Apple said the company removed six cobalt suppliers from its supply chain because it did not meet Apple's safety standards.

Meanwhile, Dell said that the allegations are still being seriously investigated and reviewed. In particular, the company never purposely asks partners to use child labor.

On the side of Alphabet, Google's parent company also emphasized the importance of protecting children. A Google representative said that bringing children into hazardous working environments is not acceptable and their supplier code of conduct prohibits this activity.


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