A boy and a woman break stones taken from a cobalt mine in a copper and cobalt quarry in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, on May 23, 2016
A Chinese metal-selling company announced Thursday that it is investigating whether Congolese mines supplying it with cobalt, a key element in the manufacture of mobile phones and electric cars, use child labor.
The Yantai Cash company, based in the province of Shandong (east China), told AFP that it is investigating the supply chain following a request from the London Metal Exchange, which sets market prices.
The NGO Amnesty International published a report last week in which it accuses large high-tech companies and electric vehicles of not guaranteeing that the minerals used to manufacture the batteries are not extracted by children.
According to the report, researchers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo saw children as young as seven years of age digging for cobalt-rich rocks.
Amnesty says the companies – which include Microsoft, Renault and Chinese technology group Huawei – did not take „any action“ to find out if the batteries used in their products are linked to human rights violations.
The British newspaper Financial Times reported on Wednesday that the London Metal Exchange is investigating, as a result of the concern expressed by its members, if in its market is negotiated with cobalt extracted by children.
Yantai Cash manager Liu Xiaohan announced that the company is investigating its supply chain with the help of RCF Capacity Planners, a Miami-based firm that provides logistics services, and the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of importers and exporters of metals
Lui said his company, which is not cited in Amnesty International’s report, does not have staff or offices in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and that it buys the metal from Chinese ports and not directly from the mines. The manager refused to specify which companies acquire the Yantai Cash cobalt.