6 December 2016

Article exposes labour rights abuses in cobalt mining

A shocking article in the Washington Post exposes the human toll of the global appetite for cheap cobalt, one of the primary minerals used to power modern electronics. Despite the value of cobalt – it is vital to the rechargeable batteries used in smartphones and laptops - many of those employed to extract the mineral work in dangerous and difficult conditions for little pay.

The article follows the story of Mayamba, a Conogolese minor who works without protective gear in a hand-dug tunnel. Workers deaths in these mines are common. The mining also results in exposure to toxic metals that are known to cause respiratory ailments. Child labour is a major issue within the mines, with government officials acknowledging that the problem is widespread.

Many workers spend several hours a day underground, with some even sleeping in the mines. Each worker earns around $2 – $3 per day. The Washington Post found that the cobalt from these Congolese mines ends up in a range of major products, such as Apple's iPhones.

To read the article, click here.