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“Clean Cobalt” Is Long Overdue

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Harvard professor and modern slavery expert Siddharth Kala has once again drawn attention to a situation that has been going on for far too long in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

On December 22nd, Kara made a guest appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience. podcastshared dramatic video footage of nearly 15,000 workers storming into the cobalt pits of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. With a pickaxe, shovel, and bare hands he digs for $2 a day in extreme Stone Age conditions. The footage appears to contradict claims from top companies in his supply chain (manufacturers of electric cars, smartphones and laptops) that these “artisan mines” were abandoned years ago. increase.

A few days later, Kara tweeted a picture of a crowded cobalt mine with the message:

Concerns about child labor and human rights abuses in the DRC’s cobalt mines were first raised by Amnesty International in 2016. Three years later, the International Rights Group (IRA) lawsuit We stand against Apple, Google, Dell, Microsoft and Tesla on behalf of the children who died or were maimed while mining cobalt in the DRC. The lawsuit was the first of its kind against technology companies that use cobalt in lithium-ion batteries. The lawsuit was dismissed and appealed in November 2021.

Kara said companies such as Tesla, Apple and Microsoft could “eliminate almost all of the indecent working conditions suffered by artisanal cobalt miners in the Democratic Republic of the Congo by simply raising retail prices to below 0.5%. ” he claims.

But Microsoft’s lawyers claim the company “doesn’t have enough relationships.” [with] Suppliers should be held accountable for what happened at the DRC’s cobalt mines,” the IRA reports on its website. “These tech companies, who claim to be green, visionary, awake, and great places to work, are only taking the bloody pages out of their corporate strategy and lying to consumers. I’m hoping they can claim that the issue is resolved with the courts saying they were simply buying cobalt and that they have no control over what is happening in the cobalt mines.”

Small-scale artisanal mining is the only viable option for collecting cobalt in areas with varying concentration levels. Management Development Institute (ism).

Additionally, most cobalt is exported to China for refining, making it difficult to trace its origin. “By the time the cobalt reaches the processing plant, [in China]it travels thousands of miles and the source of cobalt is hidden,” says ISM.

However, current blockchain technology can address these concerns.As previously pointed out, some companies such as BMWhas pioneered the use of blockchain.

Swiss-based conglomerate Glencore PLC, which trades on the London Stock Exchange, is also a prominent player. The company said he co-founded the Fair Cobalt Alliance in August 2020 and “has made significant investments to create zones of artisanal mining that meet labor and safety standards.” However, according to Standard & Poor”s, “Slow progress…”

Indeed, various non-governmental organizations have been established over the years to address this complex issue, but little progress has been made.

It’s time for the tech giants to step up and embrace the supply chain monitoring technology available today to show they’re truly innovative.

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