Monday, September 2, 2019
The cobalt mines with which the batteries of our mobiles are manufactured are a place of child exploitation. It is revealed by a Sky News video that shows children working in those mines. Cobalt is an element that has become essential in the manufacture of lithium batteries and other components for electronic devices. Its most important mines are in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which produces 60% of the world's cobalt. [jpic-jp]
Unfortunately, there is no legislation regulating its extraction in Africa. The looting was predictable and the ore is extracted in unfortunate conditions and then sold to multinationals, including China and United States, and nobody asks where it came from or how it arrived.
The video shows children carrying cobalt sacks, working and moving through extremely dangerous terrain. To prepare the report and show what is happening in the Congolese mines, the Sky News team traveled to different places in the province of Katanga. It found children under exploitation in all mines. All barefoot and without any protection, working for nine cents a day, even under heavy rains. They say they have pains all over their bodies because they are forced to work more than twelve hours a day. As if this were not enough, the tunnels of the mine are hand dug by miners without any tools. The galleries do not have any type of support, so that during rainy days, passing through them is a mortal risk. There are, according to the Sky News team, numerous uncontrolled mines in which children, women and men work in conditions of full slavery.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned on many occasions the risks of cobalt for health. Despite that, children who work in these mines manipulate it without any protection. There are children playing with cobalt stones and pregnant women with other babies in tow working tirelessly to remove the material from the mine. Doctors in the area also report mysterious diseases and tumors. Apparently, the water that reaches the village would be completely contaminated by cobalt. The supply chain is completely opaque. In it, the unfortunate conditions of illegal mines, child exploitation and pollution of the area are mixed.
Watch the video Inside the Congo cobalt mines that exploit children produced by Sky News and published by Cecilia Hill on March 3, 2017.