Archive | Mining Child and Slave Labour – Historical and Current

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 →

Cobalt-mining boys given hope – but many still suffer – by Alex Crawford (Sky News – May 10, 2017)

http://news.sky.com/

Sky News has found children continue to work long hours in cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – months after multinational corporations insisted they had cracked down on this exploitation.

Despite multiple assurances from international companies about changing work practices and tightening up supply lines, we have found nothing has changed in practice on the ground.

After an overwhelming response to our report earlier this year, with offers of donations and adoption for the children featured in the report, as well as a White House petition demanding changes, we returned to the impoverished African country to try to find some of the young people involved. Continue Reading →

India ​to legalise mica mining in bid to tackle endemic child labour – by Kate Hodal (The Guardian – May 8, 2017)

https://www.theguardian.com/

India is to legalise the mining of mica, a sparkly mineral used in eyeshadows and car paint, in a bid to cut the number of children who labour – and often die – to produce it.

The announcement comes nearly a year after a series of Guardian investigations into mica found that crippling poverty forces many families and their children to mine the highly prized mineral, with as many as 20,000 children believed to be working in the mines, about 90% of which are illegal.

A later investigation by Thomson Reuters Foundation found that at least seven children had died in just two months as they scavenged for the mineral in illegal mines. Activists lauded the decision to legalise mica mining, but warned that high poverty levels meant the move was unlikely to stop child labour. Continue Reading →

The Human Thread Of Suffering Behind The Production Of Our Cell Phones And Laptops – by Alexandra Willis (Huffington Post South Africa – May 5, 2017)

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.za/

Reports around the disregard for human and labour rights in the production of smartphones and other digital technology have been rife for years. Many of the components used in our devices are reportedly sourced through child labour and inhumane working conditions. The high value of these minerals has also fuelled competition, resulting in conflict involving mass killings and rape as a weapon of war.

All of us who own a PC, phone or other electronic gadget enjoy the benefits of new technologies, but rarely do we spare a thought as to how they are made. Inside many of these electronic devices are components that began life as minerals dug underground, sometimes at a great cost of human dignity.

Miners in countries such as Myanmar, Bolivia, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) use children as young as seven who work in perilous conditions, scavenging for minerals in industrial mines and washing and sorting them before they are sold. The minerals travel through a chain of suppliers through Asia and elsewhere to be smelted into metals, and then onto the world at large where they end up in electronics, as well in vehicles and jewelry. Continue Reading →

Tech firms must go beyond Congo’s ‘conflict minerals’ to clean supply chain: study – by J.D. Capelouto (Reuters U.S. – April 6, 2017)

http://www.reuters.com/

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Abuses linked to mining in countries such as Myanmar and Colombia are being overlooked by technology companies focused only on eliminating “conflict minerals” from war-torn parts of Africa in their supply chains, researchers said on Thursday.

In Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), competition for mineral resources has fueled two decades of conflict in its eastern provinces, including a 1998-2003 war that killed millions, mostly from hunger and disease.

Congo’s supply of tantalum, tin, tungsten and gold – metals used in smartphones, batteries and laptops – has been under scrutiny since 2010, when U.S. laws required U.S.-listed firms to ensure supply chains were free from “conflict minerals”. Continue Reading →

Tanzania struggles to end child labor from the lure of gold – by Krista Mahr (Reuters U.S. – April 3, 2017)

http://www.reuters.com/

NYALIGONGO, Tanzania (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Three years ago, 14-year-old Julius left his family near the lakeside city of Mwanza, Tanzania, to try his luck mining gold. Today Julius is in no hurry to leave, despite having one of the riskiest jobs on a chaotic mine site – handling mercury each day with his bare hands.

“It’s good work. I’m paid well,” Julius, who only wanted to use his first name, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, wearing an orange t-shirt and skinny jeans coated red dirt. Julius, now 17, said he has been working with mercury for three years – but no one had ever told him it was dangerous.

There are more than four million child laborers in Tanzania aged between 5 and 17, according to a government survey released last year in conjunction with the International Labour Organization. That’s roughly a third of the country’s children. Continue Reading →

The truth about South Africa’s illegal mining industry – by Graeme Hosken, Shenaaz Jamal, Jan Bornman and Kyle Cowan (Rand Daily Mail – March 27, 2017)

https://www.businesslive.co.za/

It’s a multibillion-dollar transnational business empire with its own financial targets, line managers, security personnel and CEOs

It’s a multibillion-dollar transnational business empire with its own financial targets, line managers, security personnel and CEOs. The playing field is spread over 6,000 disused gold, diamond, chrome and platinum mines across South Africa.

With a workforce of up to 30,000 people – equivalent to the population of a small mining town such as Carletonville on the West Rand – the operations of illegal mining syndicates run day and night.

Many of the illegal miners are immigrants, often working in conditions reminiscent of slavery. Illegal mining has been identified as a national threat and a multi-agency team has been formed toco-ordinate government efforts to combat it, says the Chamber of Mines. Continue Reading →

Meet Dorsen, 8, who mines cobalt to make your smartphone work – by Alex Crawford (Sky News.com – February 2017)

http://news.sky.com/

A Sky News investigation has found children as young as four working in Congolese mines where cobalt is extracted for smartphones.

The mineral is an essential component of batteries for smartphones and laptops, making billions for multinationals such as Apple and Samsung, yet many of those working to extract it are earning as little as 8p a day in desperately dangerous conditions.

With little regulation requiring companies to trace their cobalt supply lines, and most of the world’s cobalt coming from the Democratic Republic of Congo, the chances are your smartphone contains a battery with cobalt mined by children in the central African nation. Continue Reading →

US has provided $315m in financing to supplier of mines accused of slave labor – by Eduardo Garcia (The Guardian – February 22, 2017)

https://www.theguardian.com/

An obscure US government agency has provided $315m in taxpayer-supported financing over the past decade to a company that has supplied equipment to African mines accused of slave labor, human rights violations and environmental destruction.

Between 2007 and 2015, the US Export-Import Bank provided 48 insurance policies to the New Jersey-headquartered Connell Company to pursue deals with at least 17 mining companies in seven sub-Saharan countries.

These included a $20,000 policy to supply equipment to the Bisha copper mine in Eritrea, which is being investigated by a Canadian court amid accusations of slavery, according to an investigation of the bank by the Guardian and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism’s Energy and Environment Reporting Project. Continue Reading →

Child labor in eastern Cameroon’s gold mines – by Moki Kindzeka (Deutsche Welle – January 5, 2017)

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

Children in eastern Cameroon leave school as young as seven to work in gold mines. Moki Kindzeka travelled to the mining town of Betare-Oya where residents have an uneasy relationship with the Chinese mining community.

The road to Betare-Oya in eastern Cameroon is better than it used to be. Five years ago, it was narrow and bumpy but in the meantime the surface has been tarred and the ride is much smoother.

Simon Estil, the senior government official in Betare-Oya, says urban development in the area is being driven by gold mining. He said there used to be a market just once a week, now the market is open daily and a second one has sprung up. Continue Reading →