Apple has announced that it will start treating cobalt, an important mineral in the making of its devices, mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo as a conflict mineral amid child labor allegations. Furthermore, the iPhone maker is said to have instructed smelters it uses to stop buying cobalt from artisanal mines that use child labour as the owner of the accused mines, Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt, continues to investigate the allegations.
Cobalt is used in the making of both Apple's iPhone and iPad batteries.
“We have been working with Huayou on a program that will verify individual artisanal mines, according to our standards, and these mines will re-enter our supply chain when we are confident that the appropriate protections are in place.” Apple said in a statement to the Washington Post.
Video by Amnesty International documenti ng the hazardous conditions in which artisanal miners, including thousands of children, mine cobalt in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
This statement by Apple to stop buying cobalt from artisnal miners in the Democratic Republic of Congo comescome after pressure from the likes of Amnesty International who in 2016 released a report on how some major international electronics brands, including Apple, source cobalt from mines that use children to mine the mineral by hand. The Democratic Republic of Congo is key to major electronic brands as approximately 50% of the world’s cobalt is sourced from the country which somehow also continues to remain among the world’s poorest countries.
Apple is not the only company that is guilty of sourcing cobalt from artisinal mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo, other big technology brands include Microsoft, Motorola, Dell, HP Inc., Sony, and Samsung to name a few.
Children as young as 7 years old mining cobalt in the Democratic Republic of Congo | Amnesty International