WHERE DO THE METALS AND MINERALS USED TO MAKE GADGETS COME FROM? Amnesty International’s latest report focuses on cobalt mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), source of more than a half’s the world supply. Cobalt is a rare mineral, and also a major component in lithium-ion batteries. That’s right, those powering our smartphones, laptops, and electric cars, among other gadgets.
According to the report, children as young as seven mine cobalt in the DRC. The mineral is then sold to larger firms such as Huayou Cobalt, who further process it before selling it on to companies in China and South Korea, where the batteries are made. Amnesty International’s report claims Apple, Microsoft, Sony, and Samsung, among other large manufacturers, are some of the buyers of these batteries with conflict cobalt.
Following the release of the report this week, some of the companies mentioned have responded saying they do everything they can to avoid these situations, and claiming they find it almost impossible to trace the cobalt used in their products through their supply chain to that level. But, as Mark Dummett, Business & Human Rights Researcher at Amnesty International puts it, “if Amnesty International can do it, they can do it.”