A class action lawsuit by several complainants in the Democratic Republic of Congo accuses Apple, Google, Tesla and other large companies of knowingly exploiting child labor in local cobalt mines, a material used in lithium-ion batteries.
The complainants claim that several technology companies such as Apple, Google, Dell, Microsoft and even Tesla have exploited child labor in the cobalt mines of the Congo. The prosecution claims that all of these companies knew that cobalt is extracted mainly by young children and they did nothing to prevent this.
Children who mine cobalt for tech companies are not just forced to work full time, but are doing extremely dangerous mining at the expense of their education and future , according to the report. They are often maimed or killed by collapsed tunnels and other known dangers related to the exploitation of cobalt in the DRC. Cobalt is a key component of every rechargeable lithium-ion battery in all the gadgets produced by these companies and all the other technology companies and electric cars in the world, so much so that they have led a new wave of cruel, fueled exploitation by greed, corruption and indifference towards a powerless and hungry Congolese population .
The complaint was filed in the US district of Columbia by Terrence Collingsworth of the International Rights Advocates, on behalf of these complainants from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is not excluded that other companies will soon be added to the trial.
The complainants requested that there be a jury trial, in addition to damages for all minors. In addition, companies are also asked to fund appropriate medical care and to ensure that this does not happen again in the future.
Apple did not issue a statement at the time, but a similar charge was also made in 2016. The company responded that on this occasion it was unable to determine the origin of the cobalt it was using : Child labor will never be tolerated in our supply chain and we are proud to have led the industry to offer new guarantees in this regard. We are currently evaluating dozens of different materials, including cobalt, to identify occupational and environmental risks, as well as opportunities for Apple to make effective, scalable, and lasting change.