Cobalt mined by children in the Democratic Republic of Congo could end up in the batteries of devices made by Apple, Samsung or Sony, says Amnesty International. Fred Katayama reports.
Do you know who helped make your iPhone's battery? Amnesty International says children may have had a hand. Its report says cobalt used in batteries for phones, laptops and electric vehicles could come from mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo that use child labor. Working with campaign group African Resources Watch, Amnesty accused tech industry giants Apple, Samsung, Sony and others of poor oversight on the supply chain as cobalt goes from mines to smelters and to battery-makers. The report says, once smelted, the cobalt is exported to China. Then it's sold to battery makers that claim to supply top-end electronics companies. In a statement, Apple said it had a zero tolerance policy towards child labor. It says it's evaluating ways to improve the way it identifies labor and environmental risks. Samsung said it conducted written evaluations and on-site inspections of all suppliers to certify compliance with human rights, labor, ethics, environment and health standards. Sony did not respond to emailed requests for comment. The report singled out a smelter in southern Congo owned by Congo Dongfang Mining International. That's a wholly-owned subsidiary of China's largest cobalt chemicals producer commonly known as Huayou Cobalt. Amnesty and Afrewatch said they hoped the research will trigger action.