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Apple, Google, and Microsoft accused of aiding and abetting the death of children in cobalt mines

Apple, Google, and Microsoft accused of aiding and abetting the death of children in cobalt mines
Workers load a truck with sacks of cobalt at the Musompo market on the outskirts of Kolwezi. Cobalt is a vital mineral needed for the production of rechargeable batteries. Two thirds of the world supply is located in southern Congo where men, women and children all work. [Photo: Sebastian Meyer/Getty Images]

Five tech giants—Apple, Google, Dell, Microsoft, and Tesla—have been accused of aiding and abetting the death of children being used in cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), reports the Guardian. The tech giants were accused in a lawsuit brought against them by International Rights Advocates.

International Rights Advocates is representing 14 parents and children who say the companies aided and abetted the death or serious injury of children who were used to mine the metal cobalt, which is used in the lithium batteries that power many of the companies’ devices and products. As the Guardian reports:

In the court documents, the Congolese families describe how their children were driven by extreme poverty to seek work in large mining sites, where they claim they were paid as little as $2 (£1.50) a day for backbreaking and dangerous work digging for cobalt rocks with primitive tools in dark, underground tunnels.

The families claim that some of the children were killed in tunnel collapses while others were paralysed or suffered life-changing injuries from accidents.

The most significant claim in the lawsuit says that not only did Apple, Google, Dell, Microsoft, and Tesla use cobalt from mines where children were dying or sustaining life-altering injuries, but that the companies had “specific knowledge” that the cobalt used in their batteries was generated under such conditions.

None of the tech companies named in the lawsuit have publicly commented on the case yet.

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