Electric car demand fuelling rise in child labour in DR Congo—campaigners

(Eco Business, 5 Nov 2018) Tens of thousands of children as young as six mine for cobalt—a toxic substance and key component in batteries for electric cars—in the country’s southeast, rights groups say.

Demand for electric vehicles is fuelling a rise in child labour in cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo, experts said this week, urging companies to take action as the industry expands.

Cobalt is a key component in batteries for electric cars, phones and laptops, and Congo provides more than half of global supply.

Tens of thousands of children as young as six dig for the toxic substance in artisanal mines in the country’s southeast, without protective clothing, rights groups say.

As companies move to secure their supply of cobalt, they should also make a push to improve transparency and labour rights, said US-based advocacy group Enough Project.

“I think it’s a really interesting moment for companies because there is such a spotlight on cobalt right now,” said Annie Callaway, author of the report.

“We’re not right at the beginning of the rise in demand but we’re still pretty early on, where we can make sure that there are systems in place to address these things,” she said.

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Eco Business, 5 Nov 2018: Electric car demand fuelling rise in child labour in DR Congo—campaigners