Investigation reveals Samsung suppliers might be employing child labor in Africa

An investigation conducted by Amnesty International and Afrewatch, a non-govermnet organization based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has revealed the possibility that suppliers of some of the biggest tech companies and car manufacturers might be employing child labor in Africa. Cobalt, believed to be mined by children as young as seven, might be entering the supply chains of tech companies like Microsoft, Apple and Samsung aside from car manufacturers like Volkswagen and Daimler AG.

Samsung SDI, the division which makes batteries for Samsung as well as other clients including Apple, said in a statement that it’s “impossible” to determine if its cobalt is sourced from the DRC, adding that both CDM and Huayou are not in its supply chain. However it acknowledged its relationship with L&F Material, a battery maker based in South Korea that has also been implicated in the report, but Samsung says that its materials were sourced from Japan.

According to the report, cobalt mined by children is sold to Congo Dongfang Mining International, a DRC-based subsidiary of Huayou Cobalt. The cobalt ore is processed and then sold to companies in China and South Korea who use it to make lithium-ion batteries for smartphones and electric cars. Amnesty International contacted several companies, and while Apple and Microsoft said that they were evaluating their supply chain, Amnesty says in the report that none of the companies it contacted gave enough information which would allow for their origin of cobalt supply to be independently verified.


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