DRC/China: Child labour exposed in smart phone and electric car supply chains

On 19 January 2016, Amnesty International and African Resources Watch (Afrewatch) will launch a new report exposing child labour and other abuses in cobalt mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

While the impact of conflict minerals in eastern DRC is well documented, this report is the first comprehensive mine-to-consumer product analysis of cobalt, also essential in powering new consumer technologies.

The report is based on evidence collected at mines and interviews with miners and traders in DRC as well as the analysis of company materials. It traces cobalt from the artisanal mines to Chinese and South Korean manufacturers who supply lithium-ion batteries to global multinationals responsible for half the world’s smartphones and the rapidly-growing electric car market.

The report, coming days before the World Economic Forum, exposes the need for transparency. Without this, multinationals can profit from human rights abuses like child labour without checking where and how the raw materials in their products are mined.Photographs, video and testimony from mine workers are available on request.

To request an advance copy of the report or an interview with spokespeople please contact the Amnesty International press office on [email protected] / +44 (0)20 7413 5566 or +44 (0)777 847 2126

No regulation of global cobalt market

Cobalt is a mineral in lithium batteries used for smart phones, laptops and electric cars. It is not among the four “conflict minerals” regulated by the US Dodd-Frank Act (tantalum/coltan, tin, tungsten and gold) which obliges companies to check whether certain minerals in their products are contributing to conflict or human rights abuses in the DRC or surrounding countries. DRC provides half the world’s cobalt.