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If you buy Apple devices, you're supporting child slave labor that's used to mine rare elements used in manufacturing


Child slave labor
(NaturalNews) How would you feel if you found out that your laptop, smartphone, iPod, iPhone and tens of other consumer electronics started out in a small African village, in a place where irresponsible corporate management allows children to mine poisonous heavy metals? Believe it or not, all your rechargeable devices equipped with lithium-ion batteries need cobalt in order to be built. Brands from Apple to Microsoft, Samsung to Huawei, Sony, Vodafone, Dell, Lenovo, HP, LG and many more, are responsible for cases of child labor.

Cobalt is a rare mineral, and almost half of the world's production comes from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). As we speak, at least 25% of the artisanal miner population in the DRC is made up of child laborers, roughly 40,000 underage souls. Some of these children are only 12 years old, so they rarely have the opportunity to go to school. Instead, they follow their parents to the mines in order to help provide for their families. Their contribution is valued at roughly $1-2 for one day's worth of work.

We pay with life for our commodities

A recent report on the situation was compiled by Amnesty International earlier this month, and investigated the matter to the smallest of details. Cobalt ore is highly poisonous for our bodies. It can lead to hard metal lung disease and, ultimately, can be fatal. In these circumstances, any common-sense organization would at least provide its employees with some protective equipment, such as gloves or face masks. In the DRC, a place where child labor is an accepted reality, the official regulation code regarding safety equipment does not specify any protective measures.

Reporters witnessed first-hand children aged 12, 14 and 15 coming to work in the mines after school, or skipping school altogether, due to education costs. None of them were given protective equipment. As a result of inhaling cobalt on a daily basis, as well as performing physically demanding work (i.e. carrying sacks of cobalt ore that weigh up to 110 pounds), each and every individual reported constant pain all over their body.

The facts are harsher than the statistics

A 14-year-old boy reported that he was even required to work 24-hour shifts. Like children, women were not given any alternative to these physically grueling tasks. Even though it is difficult to believe that industry magnates such as Apple would condone such conditions, their global supply chains are hardly under any sort of rigorous control.

Although Apple is among the most valuable companies known to mankind, the company admits in a letter to Amnesty that, even though they have a zero tolerance policy regarding child labor, more help is needed to fully combat the issue. While Apple seems to put some effort into it and assume that their millions of products are the result of child labor, Microsoft blames the "complexity and resources required," for the problem.

It's a hierarchy that's hard to change

The friendly devices we use every day start out in a small African village, in the swollen, pained hands of a 12-year-old girl or boy. The ore they mine with their bare fingers is bought from them directly by a local ore company, who then smelts it and exports it to China. Here, it is sold and further processed by Chinese and South Korean manufacturers of battery components, who then sell their goods to every possible brand of consumer electronics.

The fact is, cheap labor is an intrinsic part of every company's success. Without the tens of affordable pieces imported from worldwide manufacturers, the production costs would demand an incredible shelf price compared to other products.

Sources include:

AmnestyUSA.org[PDF]

MarketWatch.com

VentureBeat.com

MarketWatch.com
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