Democratic Republic of Congo: The insatiable appetite for cobalt and child slavery

“The DRC  is rich in minerals, but a history of brutal colonial exploitation looks like being repeated now…” – Sky News

The exploitation of children, in whatever guise, is a crime against humanity. 

It is particularly disturbing to find children being cruelly exploited by a mining industry that is servicing the demands of some of the biggest corporations in the world who have the clout to stop it in its track. Corporations such as Apple, Microsoft, Tesla and Samsung who could and must press for appropriate legislation to protect children and vulnerable workers. But that is not happening in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Last year Sky News exposed the nightmare experienced by children in the growing mines that are springing up to feed the insatiable appetite for cobalt, a crucial ingredient in long lasting lithium batteries used in mobile phones, laptop computers and electric cars. Thousands of mines that are unmonitored and unregulated. The news agency visited one such mine “crawling with children working as modern-day slaves.”

The Sky News’ report has been followed in 2018 by a CBS News investigation which found little has changed. The CBS exposé quotes from an Amnesty International report, and highlights the role of China in aggressively cornering the market by buying up many of the mines to satisfy its own industrial demands for cobalt. 

A child is slapped to force the delivery of daily quotas in Congo’s cobalt mines.

This must become an outcry and companies who need cobalt must be pressurized to stop all forms of exploitation. And pressure too must be focused on China by the international community.

Sky News reported:

“At one cobalt mine, children toiled in the drenching rain carrying huge sacks of the mineral.

Dorsen, eight, had no shoes and told us he hadn’t made enough money to eat for the past two days – despite working for about 12 hours a day.

His friend Richard, 11, talked about how his whole body ached every day from the tough physical work…”

The Sky News report may be accessed by clicking here.

The CBS News investigation may be accessed by clicking here.