Guilt free phones: stop child and slave labour in cobalt mines

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Where are the materials for your phones sourced? Your laptops?

It's not something many of us think about, yet it is something that affects so many.

Cobalt is a metal in lithium batteries, something found in your smartphone, your laptop, in a Tesla. Over 60% of this metal is mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Sounds mundane, right? Well it's far from it.

Reports by power structures such as Amnesty International have shown the devastating conditions that a vast amount of cobalt is sourced, in which 40,000 children and many other men and woman work for a negligible amount of money that sometimes cannot even stretch as far as covering the daily expense of food.

Despite the health-related dangers (i.e. hard metal lung disease and other breathing problems) exposure to cobalt produces, miners are given no protective gear. Working in any weather, whether this be intense heat or rain, miners dig mining tunnels by hand, tunnels that are prone to collapsing, with an estimate of 5 to 6 collapses per month that are sometimes fatal.

Workers face abuse from their superiors, with at least half in a sample of a 100 reporting being beaten for being too slow in their work.

Although the workers face issues such as respiratory problems as well as joint and bone deformities,chronic illness and severe back pain, the pernicious impact of unethical cobalt mining has a wider impact on the Congolese community, with the metal contaminating water supplies and many believing it is the cause of tumours and the mysterious illnesses, infections and rashes that village infants are born with.

It is very easy to turn our back away from something that has no direct impact on us and the reality is, with artisanal mines, these being independent mines that are not regulated by the mining codes of the country being accountable for most unethical practices, many may question how they can help. However, with Apple, Sony, Samsung and 14 other well known companies buying cobalt from unregulated mines, buying products such as iPhones perpetuates the poor circumstances these miners face. By signing this petition and showing your support, you will be placing pressure on companies that use unethically sourced cobalt to make changes in their supply line. We've seen that this works, with Apple recently attempting to identify sources of unethical cobalt in their supply line and making this line more transparent to the public. So, sign this petition. Show your support.

 

 



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