Apple, Google, Tesla, .. benefiting from cobalt mining deaths in Africa, DR Congo.
At least 50 people have been killed after a gold mine collapsed in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, local authorities said last Saturday.
The accident occurred on Friday in the town of Kamituga in South Kivu province, following days of heavy rain, with the cause of the landslide currently under investigation.
This comes following a landmark legal case has been launched eight months ago against the world’s largest tech companies by Congolese families who say their children were killed or maimed while mining for cobalt used to power smartphones, laptops and electric cars.
Apple, Google, Dell, Microsoft and Tesla were named as defendants in a lawsuit filed in Washington DC by human rights firm International Rights Advocates on behalf of 14 parents and children from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The lawsuit, which is the result of field research conducted by anti-slavery economist Siddharth Kara, accuses the companies of aiding and abetting in the death and serious injury of children who they claim were working in cobalt mines in their supply chain.
The families and injured children are seeking damages for forced labour and further compensation for unjust enrichment, negligent supervision and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
It was the first time that any of the tech companies have faced such a legal challenge.
Cobalt is essential to power the rechargeable lithium batteries used in millions of products sold by Apple, Google, Dell, Microsoft and Tesla every year.
The insatiable demand for cobalt, driven by desire for cheap handheld technology, has tripled in the past five years and is expected to double again by the end of 2020. More than 60% of cobalt originates in DRC, one of the poorest and most unstable countries in the world.