Apple Inc buying cobalt directly from miners to cut down costs, address shortages

Cobalt, an essential element in almost all kind of smartphones to electric cars is now required in excessive amount. Apple has made deals from miners to directly acquire cobalt from the mines for their manufacturing use. This has recently bought in a lot of attention about human rights as well as Apple has been accused for child labor in the mining process.

The company has negotiated to buy thousand of metric tons of cobalt annually for a period of five years. This could extend for even more number of years. Cobalt is an important content in lithium ion batteries that are used in apple watch, iPod, iPhone and iPad. They have even use this resource for their self driving car project that Apple has been working for quite a few years.

Majority of the cobalt supply comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo, where child labor has been a major issue. Human rights campaigners are using this opportunity to press serious ethical challenges on the company for the direct supply of cobalt. It is said that children as young as seven years old are working there and said that they are  “being subjected to beatings and extortion by security guards and exploited by traders.”

“Even though cobalt is not classified as a ‘conflict mineral’, the mining conditions are often associated with severe human rights violations, including child labor,” Fairphone, mobile manufacturing company said.

Seema Joshi, Human rights at Amnesty International said that “This is a crucial moment for change,” in reaction to the recent report of child labor in Cobalt mines. “The energy solutions of the future must not be built on human rights abuses” she added.