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Apple, Google, Microsoft, Tesla and Dell sued over cobalt mined by children in Congo for batteries

Apple, Google, Microsoft, Tesla and Dell sued over cobalt mined by children in Congo for batteries

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13 comments

  1. Shouldn’t the mining companies be the ones getting sued? They’re the ones committing the crimes.

  2. This is the best tl;dr I could make, [original](https://www.cbsnews.com/news/apple-google-microsoft-tesla-dell-sued-over-cobalt-mining-children-in-congo-for-batteries-2019-12-17/) reduced by 90%. (I’m a bot)
    *****
    > More than half of the world's supply of cobalt comes from the DRC, and 20 percent of that is mined by hand, according to Darton Commodities Ltd., a London-based research company that specializes in cobalt.

    > Widespread reporting about the horrific conditions for children in DRC's cobalt mines has increased pressure on these companies for several years.

    > The filing says cobalt from the Glencore mines is sold to a metal and mineral trading firm in Belgium called Umicore, which sells refined cobalt to the named defendant corporations in the U.S. The court document said children were also working at mines owned by Chinese company Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt, which supplies at least three of the named corporations.

    *****
    [**Extended Summary**](http://np.reddit.com/r/autotldr/comments/ehntuo/apple_google_microsoft_tesla_and_dell_sued_over/) | [FAQ](http://np.reddit.com/r/autotldr/comments/31b9fm/faq_autotldr_bot/ “Version 2.02, ~453048 tl;drs so far.”) | [Feedback](http://np.reddit.com/message/compose?to=%23autotldr “PM’s and comments are monitored, constructive feedback is welcome.”) | *Top* *keywords*: **cobalt**^#1 **mine**^#2 **company**^#3 **supply**^#4 **children**^#5

  3. At what point will companies be forced to pay for their own oversight as a cost of every foreign manu operation? Like, a permit for african cobalt requires patronage of 2 UN / BBB whatever inspectors.

  4. The argument is that they are knowingly buying batteries from companies that source their cobalt from mines that are using child labor.

    Lots of problems with this though.

    1.) US explicitly lists cobalt as a [one of a handful of minerals critical to the economy and national security.](https://www.usgs.gov/news/interior-releases-2018-s-final-list-35-minerals-deemed-critical-us-national-security-and) (Regardless of any lack of trust or faith you may have in the current government or problems with the contents of this executive order, I think there would be near universal agreement that access to cobalt is critical to the economy and national security)

    2.) I’m not sure about Tesla’s partnership with Panasonic, but Apple, Google and Dell don’t buy the cobalt directly. They purchase batteries from vendors who acquire the cobalt and use it as cathodes for their batteries.

    3.) All of these companies have stated policies to minimize the risk of conflict minerals in their supply chain. For example Tesla puts a lot of research into low cobalt batteries. I’m a Tesla investor so I know that they use only 3% cobalt, which is the lowest cobalt content of any EV by far. Musk has publicly promised a 0% cobalt battery, but I’m not sure how realistically achievable that is. Apple requires suppliers only buy from whitelisted mines that they’ve supposedly vetted. Who knows how strictly they enforce these policies or even how enforceable they are. I mean if every Congolese mine operator is corrupt, what can these companies do? If the answer is nothing, see #1.

    This suit seems to be just about making noise to raise awareness of this problem. That’s a good thing. I’m not sure what the solution would be. The DRC is a government with meager resources and truly does have bigger problems, including bigger human rights problems than this. The US government doesn’t have a good record in solving these types of problems.

  5. How is Chevrolet not getting pegged for this? One of the biggest offenders IMO.

  6. I bet HP is sweating nervously right now.

  7. I don’t know what the current status of this research/production is, but Panasonic (and thereby Tesla) seems to be trying to [move away from Cobalt chemistry](https://cleantechnica.com/2018/06/17/teslas-cobalt-usage-to-drop-from-3-today-to-0-elon-commits/).

    Not trying to be a Tesla shill, just wondering if anybody is more up to date on this development and where it’s headed.

  8. Corporate hive in 3, 2, 1….

  9. Not sure what sueing them is going to do. Do they not think that our entire society was built on the backs of child slave labor, from oil fields to these batteries, to farms and the food you eat.

    -edit

    > Child labour is still common in many parts of the world. Estimates for child labour vary. It ranges between 250 and 304 million, if children aged 5–17 involved in any economic activity are counted. If light occasional work is excluded, ILO estimates there were 153 million child labourers aged 5–14 worldwide in 2008. This is about 20 million less than ILO estimate for child labourers in 2004. Some 60 percent of the child labour was involved in agricultural activities such as farming, dairy, fisheries and forestry. Another 25% of child labourers were in service activities such as retail, hawking goods, restaurants, load and transfer of goods, storage, picking and recycling trash, polishing shoes, domestic help, and other services. The remaining 15% laboured in assembly and manufacturing in informal economy, home-based enterprises, factories, mines, packaging salt, operating machinery, and such operations. Two out of three child workers work alongside their parents, in unpaid family work situations. Some children work as guides for tourists, sometimes combined with bringing in business for shops and restaurants. Child labour predominantly occurs in the rural areas (70%) and informal urban sector (26%).

    Let’s sue all of these industries if you actually wanna make an impact..

    assembly and manufacturing in informal economy, home-based enterprises, factories, mines, packaging salt, operating machinery
    farming, dairy, fisheries and forestry, retail, hawking goods, restaurants, load and transfer of goods, storage, picking and recycling trash, polishing shoes, domestic help

  10. It’s time to bully Elon… again

  11. Can 5 year old me move there to sell newspapers and smoke cigarettes?

  12. The beauty of globalism is that this story will pass, big tech will get away with it, and enslaved children in the congo will continue to mine cobalt by hand for 16 hours a day so that you can have a cheap battery in your laptop. Teehee, isn’t capitalism great. ^_^ /s

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