Children as young as seven years old are working for up to $2 daily mining in dangerous conditions to gather cobalt used in lithium batteries for 16 multinational corporations like Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, Sony, and others, according to Amnesty International.
If true, a report by the human rights group about mining conditions in the Democratic Republic of Congo counters claims by gadget producers that child labor is not involved in their production stream. The report said at least 80 miners have died in the past year in the DRC, which produces about half the world’s cobalt. Unicef estimates that there are as many as 40,000 child miners in the region. Amnesty International interviewed dozens of workers, who usually wear no protective clothing while toiling long hours.
A 14-year-old orphan named Paul said he works so long underground that “I had to relieve myself down in the tunnels,” according to the report. “I would spend 24 hours down in the tunnels. I arrived in the morning and would leave the following morning,” the boy told Amnesty International.
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