Standort: / Meldung: "Cobalt killer"

Steve Crilley

God, what's happening in the world! A reality check on the web.

19. 1. 2016 - 16:29

Cobalt killer

Children mining cobalt for our smartphone batteries? Reality Check speaks with Amnesty International.

Next time you look at your smartphone and complain about the intermittent battery life, you may want to additionally consider the lives of children that are sent down into the artisanal mines of the Democratic Republic of Congo to dig cobalt with their hands.

Cobalt is an important ingredient in batteries for everyday items like mobile phones and laptops and cameras. To run your PC, your mobile phone or your MP3 player, you need rechargeable batteries containing cobalt. And guess where most of the world's cobalt comes from? The Democratic Republic of Congo (or DRC). In fact, the country holds almost half of the world's cobalt reserves.

According to a new report, Amnesty International and Afrewatch are citing major electronics brands, including Apple, Samsung and Sony, and saying these giants of industry are failing to do basic checks to ensure that cobalt mined by child labourers has not been used in their products.

Their report makes interesting reading. It’s called: This is what we die for: Human rights abuses in the Democratic Republic of the Congo power the global trade in cobalt. The document traces the sale of cobalt, used in lithium-ion batteries, from mines where children as young as seven, and adults work in dangerous areas.

One of the conclusions of their report:
It is a major paradox of the digital era that some of the world’s richest, most innovative companies are able to market incredibly sophisticated devices without being required to show where they source raw materials for their components”.

We spoke with Mark Dummet, Amnesty International's business and human rights researcher, for more on what Amnesty claims is going on.

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China: The big slow down
Also on the programme today, we spoke about China. If Austria's economy grew by 6.9% last year, we may consider that was something to boast about. If you are China, however, that figure is a bit of a disaster. Because that is the slowest growth in 25 years for the country. So why is this going on now and what could happen if that growth continues to slow? We put all out that to our Asia correspondent, Tony Cheng.

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EU Hot Spots
European Union Migration Commissioner, Dimitris Avramopoulos is turning up the heat on Greece & Italy, saying that both countries need to step up their efforts in creating reception centres for refugees and migrants coming into the EU. But the target of just four weeks for all of this to happen, how realistic is all of that? We got more from our man in Brussels, Jack Parrock.

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Grants for low income English students to be cut?
In England, if you come from a low income family, there is the possibility, up until now anyway, that you could qualify for a grant to help you through your university studies. Not any more, if the Conservative government have their way. It’s not very much many anyway and normally just covers their housing costs but it is set to be swiped away and replaced by a loan system. So what’s going on and why is the government targeting these group of needier young people in England. Olly Barrett in London, told us more.

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Flint Water
Flint, Michigan was put on the map by Michael Moore in his documentaries, as he hails from there. It is one of America’s poorest cities having suffered immensly through the downturn in heavy industries in recent decades. But there is also a new problem which is giving residents of Flint something else to worry about and it concerns the purity of the water. We have a special report about what appears to have gone on.

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