A CNN Freedom Project investigation has found that child labour is still being used to mine the mineral cobalt, a key component in lithium-ion batteries used to power electric vehicles and smartphones.
CNN’s Senior International Correspondent Nima Elbagir, producer Dominique van Heerdenand and photojournalist Alex Platt travelled to Kolwezi in the Democratic Republic of Congo – the epicentre of a modern-day cobalt “gold rush” – to track this complex supply chain.
The CNN team witnessed children working at the Musonoie river mine – washing and carrying cobalt ore in sacks – before being chased away by officials. CNN cameras even captured one mining ministry official slapping a child in the face once he realised he was being filmed.
CNN visited three mining sites and found evidence of child labour at each one, with hidden cameras capturing a nine-year-old boy working at one mine.
Before leaving Kolwezi, Elbagir spoke to Richard Muyej, governor of Lualaba Province, about what she witnessed on the ground. He acknowledged that problems persisted in some mines, but said the situation has been improving over the years.
“We must work together to make the issue of traceability transparent and to make the sites safe and regularised,” Muyej said, adding that Apple and Samsung were some of the region’s biggest cobalt consumers but he had never met with representatives from these companies.
Muyej continued: “If [these multinational firms] have the correct intention to work with us on traceability in a proper manner, they should come and see us.”
Read the full story on CNN: https://cnnmon.ie/2jluJb4