Archive | Mining Child and Slave Labour – Historical and Current

‘Cobalt for cobalt’s sake’: Electric vehicle boom changing the equation for a mining byproduct – by Geoff Zochodne (Financial Post – November 30, 2017)

http://business.financialpost.com/

Investors have renewed their interest in an historic Canadian cobalt play amid a recent boom brought on by the adoption of electric vehicles.

Toronto-based First Cobalt Corp. has seen its stock price double in value since announcing last week that it had received shareholder backing for a three-way merger with fellow juniors Cobaltech Mining Inc. and Cobalt One Ltd. The deal includes past-producing mines near Cobalt, Ont., a town named after the metal and located approximately 500 kilometres north of Toronto.

With its acquisitions expected to close in the coming week or so, First Cobalt says it now controls 45 per cent of the land in the so-called “Cobalt Camp,” in addition to owning the only permitted cobalt refinery on the continent that can produce battery-grade materials. While the camp is still in its exploratory stage, shares of First Cobalt are up nearly 280 per cent for the year, closing at $1.47 Wednesday. Continue Reading →

‘New era’: Canadian mining industry closely watching three civil cases alleging human rights abuses – by Douglas Quan (National Post – November 28, 2017)

http://nationalpost.com/

A trio of civil cases winding through the courts signal a breakthrough in efforts to hold Canadian-based mining companies accountable on home turf when they’re accused of violations abroad, human rights and legal observers say.

Historically, Canadian judges have been inclined to send such cases back to the jurisdictions where the alleged abuses occurred. But the three pending cases — two in British Columbia and one in Ontario — show that the legal landscape is shifting.

“Courts are now willing to hear these cases,” says Penelope Simons, a law professor at the University of Ottawa. “They’re not trying to punt them back to other places. That’s an important thing.” Continue Reading →

Cobalt Producer to Tackle Child Labor Concerns With Supply Probe – by Mark Burton (Bloomberg News – November 23, 2017)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Chinese cobalt refiner Yantai Cash Industrial Co. will demand suppliers show that their raw materials aren’t produced with child labor after the London Metal Exchange set a deadline for companies that ship to its warehouses to spell out efforts to combat the problem.

Shandong-based Yantai is working with China’s Chamber of Commerce of Metals, Minerals and Chemicals Importers and Exporters, and shipping services firm RCF Capacity Planners to audit its supply chain, Liu Xiaohan, a manager at the company, said by phone. The producer delivered metal to LME warehouses after gaining an export license in June.

“They will help us set up a responsible supply chain system,” Liu said. ‘‘We are going to set up a code of conduct and we will ask our suppliers to clarify the source of raw materials we buy.” Continue Reading →

Vancouver mining company faces trial over slavery claims – by Ian Mulgrew (Vancouver Sun – November 21, 2017)

http://vancouversun.com/

Canadian companies have been put on notice by the B.C. Court of Appeal that they can be held accountable in the nation’s courts for human rights abuses committed in foreign countries.

In a ruling with wide implications, the three-justice division dismissed a B.C. firm’s attempts to block a suit by African workers who say they were forced to toil as slaves at a gold mine 60 per cent owned by Nevsun Resources Ltd. and 40 per cent by Eritrean state companies.

“It’s a very important win because it means the case can proceed and Nevsun will have to answer the case on the merits, meaning they are going to have to respond to the allegations they were complicit in the use of forced labour in the building of that mine,” explained Joe Fiorante, a lawyer who represented the refugees. Continue Reading →

Darker side of electric cars in spotlight – by Angela Jameson (The National – November 19, 2017)

https://www.thenational.ae/

While EV emissions are good news for the planet the materials used to produce them are rasing concerns

Momentum is fast building behind electric vehicles as countries round the world move to reduce use of petrol and diesel for transport. This summer France and the UK said they would ban combustion engines by 2040 and China has said it is studying such a move.

Volvo, now a Swedish-Chinese company, says every car it launches from 2019 will be either fully or partly electric. Volvo’s announcement this year was greeted as the first serious challenge to Tesla, the Californian electric car maker, from mainstream marques.

Analysts at UBS expect global sales of electric vehicles in 2025 to reach 14.2 million units, or 13.7 per cent of the total, compared with under 1 million units, or less than 1 per cent, in 2017. Continue Reading →

Apple leads way in tracing cobalt from Congo, Microsoft lags: Amnesty – by Eric Onstad (Reuters U.S. – November 12, 2017)

http://www.reuters.com/

LONDON (Reuters) – Apple is leading the way in tracing cobalt used in its electronics to ensure the metal has not been mined by children in Democratic Republic of Congo while Microsoft is lagging, Amnesty International said.

Microsoft disagreed with the pressure group’s conclusions published on Wednesday. Congo is by far the world’s biggest producer of cobalt, accounting for more than half of global supplies of the metal, a key ingredient in lithium-ion batteries.

Amnesty, however, says about a fifth of the country’s cobalt production is mined by hand by informal miners including children, often in dangerous conditions. Cobalt has shot to prominence in recent months and its price skyrocketed due to expected growth in demand for electric vehicles powered by lithium-ion batteries. Continue Reading →

The German Auto Industry’s Darkest Secrets – by Melanie Bergermann, Simon Book, Alexander Busch and Martin Seiwert (Handelsblatt Global – November 3, 2017)

https://global.handelsblatt.com/

German consumers purchasing a new electric car may be buying a few extras they didn’t reckon with – such as child labor, corruption and police brutality.

The young man shyly moves his T-shirt down over his belly, hiding the scars from the operation and the exit holes. His fellow South Africans call Mzoxolo Magidiwana, 24, “dead man walking” because he will never recover from the injuries he suffered when police opened fire on him and his fellow workers five years ago. Bullets tore into his stomach and his right arm no longer has any strength; nor can he walk properly anymore.

Mr. Magidiwana was one of the leaders of the 3,000 miners who went on strike on August 12, 2012 to protest poor working conditions and low pay at the Marikana platinum mine some 100 kilometers from Johannesburg in South Africa.

The workers were being paid just €400 ($464) per month for back breaking work. Below ground, they had to contend with constant accidents and dust that made them ill. Above ground, they were breathing the toxic fumes coming out of the platinum smelter. Continue Reading →

A Mining Billionaire Takes His War on Slavery to the UN – by Katie Robertson (Bloomberg News – September 21, 2017)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Andrew Forrest walks up to CEOs and confronts them with the ugly truth: You may be a slaveholder. The Australian billionaire, who founded Fortescue Metals, one of the world’s largest iron ore producers, has spent years trying to convince anyone who will listen that slavery thrives in the modern world—and that they need to do something about it.

Since confronting the practice in his own company’s supply chain, Forrest has been on a mission to abolish forced labor and human trafficking. This year, he made it to the United Nations.

A special panel of world leaders addressing global slavery was chaired by U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday on the sidelines of the General Assembly and was attended by UN Secretary General António Guterres and senior White House adviser Ivanka Trump, among others. Continue Reading →

NEWS RELEASE: Taking action to prevent child and forced labour in the mining supply chain

OTTAWA, Sept. 18, 2017 /CNW/ – The Mining Association of Canada (MAC) today announced the addition of two new components to its Towards Sustainable Mining® (TSM®) initiative to contribute to global efforts in preventing the use of child and forced labour in the mining supply chain, and to provide the information needed to demonstrate the responsible sourcing of minerals and metals.

Despite the fact that Canada has rigorous legal measures in place to prevent child and forced labour, this action was undertaken because MAC’s TSM initiative has been expanding internationally. These additions to TSM build on the program’s commitment to continuously improve the social and environmental performance of the industry.

This work also responds to the needs of organizations such as the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition to ensure and demonstrate that such labour practices have no place in their supply chains. For example, Apple’s recently-updated Supplier Responsibility Standards included TSM, but noted that the program did not cover child or forced labour. This prompted MAC to take action to strengthen TSM in this important area. Continue Reading →

Is child labor the price for e-cars? – by Helle Jeppesen (Deutsche Welle – August 23, 2017)

http://www.dw.com/en/

Whether in cars, laptops or smartphones, cobalt is in nearly all batteries. The biggest supplier is the Democratic Republic of Congo, where human rights are often violated in the mines.

Young men, armed with only torchlight and tools climb down in a deep, dark hole, without helmet or security gear. The path becomes even smaller as they go further down in the unsecured tunnel. To remove the cobalt, the young miners use chisels and hand hooks and then place the gem rocks into bags, which are then pulled up by another miner above ground.

The rights group Amnesty International witnessed this scene during a research trip in Kasulu, the former Katanga province in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). These mine workers are known in the DRC as Creuseurs, loosely translated as the diggers.

The mining work is divided among everyone. Men dig for the rocks in the tunnel, women wash the rocks in the river, and children are tasked with separating the cobalt from the rock with their bare hands. Continue Reading →

Child miners aged four living a hell on Earth so YOU can drive an electric car: Awful human cost in squalid Congo cobalt mine that Michael Gove didn’t consider in his ‘clean’ energy crusade – by Barbara Jones (Daily Mail – August 5, 2017)

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/

Picking through a mountain of huge rocks with his tiny bare hands, the exhausted little boy makes a pitiful sight. His name is Dorsen and he is one of an army of children, some just four years old, working in the vast polluted mines of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where toxic red dust burns their eyes, and they run the risk of skin disease and a deadly lung condition.

Here, for a wage of just 8p a day, the children are made to check the rocks for the tell-tale chocolate-brown streaks of cobalt – the prized ingredient essential for the batteries that power electric cars.

And it’s feared that thousands more children could be about to be dragged into this hellish daily existence – after the historic pledge made by Britain to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars from 2040 and switch to electric vehicles. Continue Reading →

Op-Ed Were the raw materials in your iPhone mined by children in inhumane conditions? – by Brian Merchant (Los Angeles Times – July 23, 2017)

http://www.latimes.com/

Brian Merchant, an editor at Motherboard, is the author of “The One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone.”

Last year, I visited the sprawling mines of Cerro Rico, the “rich hill” that looms over Potosi, Bolivia. Four centuries ago, it supplied the silver that bankrolled the Spanish empire. Today, miners who work in the same tunnels as 16th century conscripted Incan laborers are providing tin for Apple products like the iPhone. It’s a powerful paradox — our most cutting-edge consumer devices are made from raw material obtained by methods barely advanced beyond colonial times.

Cerro Rico couldn’t be farther from Silicon Valley. Cigarette-scarred devil idols mark the mine entrances. Its support beams are split and cracked, and the air in the tunnels is thick with suffocating silica dust. According to a BBC report, the average lifespan of a Cerro Rico miner is 40 years. Worse, a UNICEF report found that children as young as 6 years old have worked in its tunnels.

Tin isn’t the only ingredient in an iPhone that’s obtained in ways that don’t quite match Apple’s “Supplier Code of Conduct,” which states that “all workers in our supply chain deserve a fair and ethical workplace.” Continue Reading →

Legalising North East India’s mica mines – by Heidi Vella (Mining Technology – July 17, 2017)

http://www.mining-technology.com/

Around 20,000 children work in North East India’s highly dangerous and illegal mica mines. The Indian Government has pledged to legalise these mines in order to protect a vital source of income for poverty stricken families, raise safety standards and put an end to child labour, which has already claimed many young lives; but will this strategy work?

It makes cars sparkle and eyeshadow shimmer. Yet, despite the glamourous hue it produces, how mica is collected is far from seductive. In 2015 and 2016, separate investigations by The Guardian and Thompson Reuters exposed terrible working conditions and child labour connected with the major mica producing states Bihar, Jharkhand, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh in North East India, where a quarter of the world’s mica is produced.

The Reuters investigation alone found that seven children had been killed in these mines within two months; some of their deaths covered up by the illegal mine operators which paid families for their silence. Further deaths have been recorded by the India-based NGO Save Childhood Movement. Continue Reading →

Mine boy tended mules underground – by Bill White (The Morning Call – June 28, 2017)

http://www.mcall.com/

I have a great little coal mine story to share, and while I’m at it, I’ll include some of the other reminiscences and other reactions to my latest coal cracker columns. Just to review, I wrote Sunday about my tour of the No. 9 Coal Mine and Museum in Lansford and the week before about the Lehigh Anthracite surface mining operation in Tamaqua. Previous columns have featured people’s memories about life in the mines and in the coal region.

I got this first story over the phone, but I’ll repeat it more or less in the words of the caller, Robert Weed, 87, of Bethlehem, who got his only coal-mining experience in the Hudson Coal Co. mine in Peckville, Lackawanna County.

“I was 7 going on 8 years of age, and I desperately wanted a bicycle,” he said. “My father worked for the Hudson Coal Co. up in the Scranton-Wilkes Barre area, and he found me a job so I could earn money to buy a bicycle. “I went for nine months, I believe. At 5:15 in the morning, I rode the tram with the mine superintendent, I believe 180 feet underground. [The superintendent was there to walk the mine with a canary in a cage to check for methane gas.] Continue Reading →

Canada’s Boy Miners – by Robert McIntosh (Canada’s History — May 9, 2017)

Pennsylvania Child Coal Miners – Wiki

http://www.canadashistory.ca/

Like children in other late nineteenth and early twentieth-century Canadian communities, boys in colliery towns and villages worked.

“Long before your city boys are astir the pit boy is awakened by the steam whistles, which blow three long blasts at half-past five o’clock every morning, thus warning him that it is time to get up. Breakfast partaken of, he dons his pit clothes, usually a pair of indifferent-fitting duck trousers, generously patched, an old coat, and with a lighted tin lamp on the front of his cap, his tea and dinner cans securely fastened on his back, he is ready for work.

He must be at his post at 7 o’clock. Off he goes, and in a few minutes with a number of others, he is engaged in animated conversation, and having a high old time generally, as he is lowered on a riding rake to the bottom of the slope.”

— Halifax Morning Chronicle, 4 December 1890

Like children in other late nineteenth and early twentieth century Canadian communities, boys in colliery towns and villages worked. Like other children also, these boys started to work at an early age. Even well after the turn of this century, according to mining historian Lynne Bowen, “if a boy who had lived in a coal town got tired of school and was anxious to make a little money, the obvious thing for him to do was to go to work in the mines. Continue Reading →