| December 17, 2019 01:16 PM
A number of high-profile American technology giants are being sued in a class-action lawsuit after children were killed during a cobalt mine collapse in Africa. The suit, brought by the human rights group International Rights Advocates, alleges poor oversight of mining systems.
Apple, Microsoft, Dell, Tesla, and Alphabet, the parent group of Google, are said to have “aided and abetted” a cobalt mining supply chain that has resulted in the death and injury of multiple children in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The IRA is representing 14 parents of children who were either killed or seriously injured in related mining injuries.
“Apple, Alphabet, Dell, Microsoft, and Tesla all have specific policies claiming to prohibit child labour in their supply chains,” read part of the suit that was filed in Washington by the IRA. “Their failure to actually implement these policies to stop forced child labour in cobalt mining is an intentional act to avoid ending the windfall of getting cheap cobalt.”
Cobalt is used to power lithium batteries in hardware devices for each of the companies named. “Every smartphone, tablet, laptop, electric vehicle, or other device containing a lithium-ion rechargeable battery requires cobalt in order to recharge,” the IRA wrote in its filing document.
In its lawsuit, the IRA traced a supply chain implemented by 20th-century colonizers that continues today. The IRA claims that tech giants “are knowingly benefiting from and providing substantial support to this ‘artisanal’ mining system in the DRC.”