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“Dealers at markets in the DRC were filmed buying cobalt without verifying its source and mining method,” CNN’s Alanna Petroff wrote. “They then send it for processing where it is mixed with cobalt from other mines before ending up in batteries that power devices around the world.”
Children working in the DRC’s cobalt mining operations isn’t new. Amnesty International’s report on the problem was published in 2016, as Petroff pointed out. CBS News estimates that 40,000 children in the DRC work in cobalt mining. Yet cobalt was left off the list of conflict minerals that fall under the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s reporting rules introduced in 2012.
Despite the lack of disclosure required, companies like the tech giants that produce rechargeable devices and electric vehicle manufacturers say they want better transparency around cobalt.
Last fall, diversified miner Eurasian Resources Group (ERG) helped launch the Global Battery Alliance dedicated to ensuring an ethical and sustainable global supply chain for lithium-ion battery production, Mining Weekly reported. China’s Responsible Cobalt Initiative, established in 2016, includes Apple, Sony, and Volvo. Reuters noted that Daimler joined in late April. But it remains unclear how much progress either initiative has made so far.
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