Apple battery suppliers use cobalt mined by child laborers, report says

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2016
An Amnesty International investigation claims child labor is being used to acquire cobalt in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a mineral used in the production of lithium-ion batteries purchased by tech companies like Apple.




The report, published on Monday by Amnesty and DPR non-profit Afrewatch, claims children as young as seven years old are mining for cobalt that makes its way into the supply chains of high-tech companies including Apple, Samsung, Sony and Microsoft, as well as electric car makers like Daimler and Volkswagen.

According to Amnesty, traders purchase mined minerals from smaller cobalt producers and sell it to Congo Dongfang Mining (CDM), a subsidiary of Chinese mineral purveyor Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt Ltd. (Huayou Cobalt). From there the cobalt moves on to three battery manufacturers in China and South Korea, ultimately trickling down to consumer products sold by major brands.

The non-profit groups conducted interviews with 87 current and former cobalt miners, including 17 children, from five small mines in the southern DRC last year, the report said. As cobalt is not defined as a "conflict mineral" under US standards, corporations are not obliged to publish supply chain transparency reports regarding mining sources, meaning there is little to no regulation of the worldwide market. In practice, companies are left to police their own suppliers.

In reaction to the findings, Amnesty is calling on multinational corporations using lithium-ion batteries to conduct basic human rights due diligence and audit their respective supply chains.

For its part, Apple told Amnesty it was unable to determine the origin of the cobalt used in its batteries, nor could the company confirm a connection to CDM/Huayou Cobalt. Other manufacturers offered similar statements, saying it is either difficult or impossible to trace material sources back to DRC.

"Underage labour is never tolerated in our supply chain and we are proud to have led the industry in pioneering new safeguards," Apple said in a statement to the BBC. "We are currently evaluating dozens of different materials, including cobalt, in order to identify labour and environmental risks as well as opportunities for Apple to bring about effective, scalable and sustainable change."

As the world's largest tech company, Apple has been under media scrutiny for years, especially when it comes to human rights violations. Taking a proactive position, Apple has built out a comprehensive supply chain monitoring system, with a stringent set of guidelines, yearly transparency reports and special funding initiatives to ensure adequate living conditions for overseas workers. For example, the company looked into underage worker claims in 2010, while subsequent Supplier Responsibility Reports uncovered further abuse in 2013. As a result of its findings, Apple imposed sanctions on or ceased to do business with offending firms.

When a supplier is found in violation of underage hiring policies, Apple forces the company to pay the employee to return home, finance an education selected by the worker or their family, continue to pay out wages and offer them a job when of legal working age. With substantial leverage as the world's largest tech company, Apple is in a position to demand rigid adherence to its supply chain regulations.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 55
    (Deleted. Why bother...)
    SpamSandwichbdkennedy1002
  • Reply 2 of 55
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 4,034member
    and who the fuck cares? So, if Apple buy battery from this manufacturer, Apple are responsible for their labor hires? What the fcuk is that? If I eat rice imported from Vietnam, I'm responsible for these 12-14 year-old farmers who work 10 hrs+ a day back in the countryside in Vietnam? BS.
    tallest skilSpamSandwichradarthekat
  • Reply 3 of 55
    jbdragonjbdragon Posts: 2,246member
    Apple is going way out of their way, and yet there is Apple thrown right in front of everyone. With really, ZERO proof of Apple doing anything wrong.
    tallest skilanton zuykov
  • Reply 4 of 55
    This is somehow Apple's fault? What crap. This "let's blame Apple" routine practiced by the very left leaning organizations is as big an extortion game as the class-action lawyers try to run on Apple.
    tallest skilequality72521
  • Reply 5 of 55
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,893member
    Let's bring these jobs back to the U.S.!
    tallest skilmacky the mackysuddenly newtonfrankiethepixeldoccornchipfreshmaker
  • Reply 6 of 55
    joshajosha Posts: 901member
    So those well liked electric cars using Lion batteries are probably also in this problem ?
    Well another reason not to buy a  more expensive to run electric car !
    steviebdkennedy1002
  • Reply 7 of 55
    jdwjdw Posts: 993member
    cpsro said:
    Let's bring these jobs back to the U.S.!
    Agreed.  If we put our kids to work like that in the US, they'd get into less trouble!  :smile: 
    tallest skilmacguiicoco3cornchipdasanman69RobJenk
  • Reply 8 of 55
    And, we expect more from Amnesty International? 
  • Reply 9 of 55
    tenlytenly Posts: 709member
    This article should absolutely not have the word Apple in the headline.  It should be replaced with "Many Tech and Automotive Companies"
    edited January 2016 tallest skilteejay2012mwhitepscooter63tdknoxanton zuykovthepixeldoctechlovercornchip
  • Reply 10 of 55
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 5,005member

    The new green peace, use some companies name to get the press to notice. Why doesn't News organization head over to the Congo and do a real time report and show the mines and go inside and show the kids working. Yeah they will all end up dead.

    By the way, with all this pressure on the Congo to stop this kind of activities, will just cause them to do mass killings like they have done in the past. These places do not care, and the US and other countries an their stupid games just cause these places in the world more issues. If it not one thing it is another.

  • Reply 11 of 55
    Colbalt touched by child labor is contaminated and must be destroyed and never reused.
  • Reply 12 of 55
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    This is basically another, lets get attention by linked Apple to it, PR job.
    Haven't we heard about this last year. and the year before, and before.

    Often it's a few young people who lied about their age, or the company knew they lied about their age, to get it.

    This is often not systematic even when it does exist.
  • Reply 13 of 55
    steviestevie Posts: 956member
    Apple isn't any more to blame for using these products than we are for buying Apple products.  It's the same thing.  It isn't our fault, and it isn't Apple's fault.  
  • Reply 14 of 55
    SoliSoli Posts: 10,030member
    fallenjt said:
    and who the fuck cares? So, if Apple buy battery from this manufacturer, Apple are responsible for their labor hires? What the fcuk is that? If I eat rice imported from Vietnam, I'm responsible for these 12-14 year-old farmers who work 10 hrs+ a day back in the countryside in Vietnam? BS.
    To an extent, sure, much in the same way if you're buying something on Craig's List and you think it's probably stolen (even if you can't prove it) but it's a great price, that you may ethically decide not to support the seller on the principle of it.

    The fact is, if this is happening with Apple, it's likely happening with everyone else because Apple is probably the most responsible and vocal when it comes to Supplier Responsibility.


    Now, while I do believe Cook does care about such things, and also feel this is part of the core of Apple's values, this responsibility should not be seen as altruism in business.
    edited January 2016 bestkeptsecretthepixeldoc
  • Reply 15 of 55
    Bullshit happens in other countries but everyone blames Apple, News at 11.
    tallest skil
  • Reply 16 of 55
    I hate Progressives. They're the worst.
    tallest skilequality72521
  • Reply 17 of 55
    Mikey Campbell once again throwing only Apple under the bus with his defamatory headline.
    Did you read the entire article, or just the headline? The last part of the article, after simply describing the issue, was very positive towards Apple. 

    To to others who wrote comments about picking on Apple, read the entire thing. I, for one, want to know what's going on with all things Apple. Thanks, Mikey, for keeping me informed. 
    edited January 2016 Solironnration altechlover
  • Reply 18 of 55
    Why isn't Apple doing more to make the world perfect? /s

    I found a report, (http://www.idigitaltimes.com/your-smartphone-created-slave-labor-among-major-tech-companies-only-nokia-can-prove-its-factory) in which Apple, LG Electronics, Microsoft and Samsung scored a B overall, only slightly lower scores than the B+ for the leader Nokia. The report noted that Apple's ranking may be surprising given the media attention Apple has received for poor working conditions and child labor. They concluded that Apple's ranking near the top was not because their supply chains were free of abuse, but rather that they were doing more to address these issues.

    Apple just can't seem to win with these media hit pieces and a public that thinks there is still truth in journalism.



  • Reply 19 of 55
    tenlytenly Posts: 709member
    Gee, little Mikey Campbell once again throwing only Apple under the bus with his defamatory headline. Are you desperate for a some clicks Mikey? Numbers down this month? Cheap, biased, and just wreaking of an obvious agenda.
    Did you read the entire article, or just the headline? The last part of the article, after simply describing the issue, was very positive towards Apple. 

    To to others who wrote comments about picking on Apple, read the entire thing. I, for one, want to know what's going on with all things Apple. Thanks, Mikey, for keeping me informed. 
    The article itself is fine and I agree it's newsworthy - not that I think Apple should be in any way responsible for policing its suppliers...

    It's the headline which is a cheap attempt to grab intersect and clicks by singling out Apple.  Sure - the article clarifies that it's not just Apple - but the headline is misleading and it gives a negative impression to those that just scan the headlines and don't read the full article.

    I've had countless break room conversations over the years that are started by various co-workers that have just scanned the headlines.  They'll announce loudly, to anyone that'll listen "So...I hear Apple is hiring 7-year olds to make their phones!" - and of course no one wants to listen to the full explanation.

    The headline is a cheap attempt to grab clicks.
    mobiusnemoeacthepixeldocequality72521tallest skil
  • Reply 20 of 55
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 4,034member
    Soli said:
    fallenjt said:
    and who the fuck cares? So, if Apple buy battery from this manufacturer, Apple are responsible for their labor hires? What the fcuk is that? If I eat rice imported from Vietnam, I'm responsible for these 12-14 year-old farmers who work 10 hrs+ a day back in the countryside in Vietnam? BS.
    To an extent, sure, much in the same way if you're buying something on Craig's List and you think it's probably stolen (even if you can't prove it) but it's a great price, that you may ethically decide not to support the seller on the principle of it.

    The fact is, if this is happening with Apple, it's likely happening with everyone else because Apple is probably the most responsible and vocal when it comes to Supplier Responsibility.


    Now, while I do believe Cook does care about such things, and also feel this is part of the core of Apple's values, this responsibility should not be seen as altruism in business.
    Dude, are you serious by comparing this to Craigslist? If Apple buy batteries from a contractor and this contractor stole their products from someone, then yes, Apple are responsible for that. This is a business with contract black and white on paper which nothing says about who this company must hire. To the US, underaged workers are illegal, but not in other countries. So, using US policies on other countries are totally bullshit. I grew up in a third world countries where teenagers as young as 11-12 are considered in labor force. 
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