Apple, Google and Tesla named in underage labor lawsuit over Cobalt mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo

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What you need to know

  • Apple, Google, and Tesla have all been named in a lawsuit over alleged forced child labor in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
  • The suit alleged that tech companies have knowingly exploited underage labor in the mining of cobalt.
  • Cobalt is used in Lithium-ion batteries.

Apple, Google, and Tesla have been named in a lawsuit alleging that tech companies knowingly used Cobalt from the Democratic Republic of Congo that was mined by children in the making of Lithium-ion batteries.

As reported by AppleInsider, the suit was filed by a group known as International Rights Advocates, by Terrence Collingsworth in the District of Columbia. International Rights Advocates said in a press release:

IRAdvocates filed a federal class-action lawsuit today (see link below for the full complaint) on behalf of 14 Doe Plaintiffs who are either guardians of children killed in tunnel or wall collapses while mining cobalt in the Democratic Republic of Congo ("DRC") or children who were maimed in such accidents. The DRC has the world's largest deposits of cobalt, an essential element of rechargeable lithium-ion battery in products made by all tech and electric car companies. The tech boom has caused an explosion in demand for cobalt, but in one of the most extreme contrasts imaginable, cobalt is mined in the DRC under extremely dangerous stone age conditions by children paid a dollar or two a day to supply cobalt for the expensive gadgets made by some of the richest companies in the world. The lawsuit names Apple, Alphabet (Google), Dell, Microsoft, and Tesla as Defendants.

The release further states that the Plaintiffs have evidence "these companies in particular aided and abetted the mines that abused and profited from forcing Plaintiffs and other children to mine cobalt under conditions that led to their deaths or serious, crippling injuries." It is also said that the investigation into these companies is continuing, and that other companies are expected to be added to the suit. It is said to be "well-documented" that children are not only being forced to work full-time, dangerous jobs rather than be educated, but that these children are regularly being maimed and killed in the process. The suit is filed on behalf of 14 Plaintiffs, said to be either the guardians of children killed in such circumstances or children themselves who have been maimed in tunnel or wall collapse.

According to the post, the plaintiffs are seeking relief based on "common law claims of unjust enrichment, negligent supervision, and intentional infliction of emotional distress." There is no indication at this stage as to how the case will proceed or any given timetable.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9