We sure do pay a lot of money for our iPhones, galaxies, and Android devices. However, they come at a much larger cost for the people in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The democratic republic of the Congo is one of the poorest countries in the world. The second most poor country that is, as declared by the world bank in 2014. The Democratic Republic of the Congo isn’t rich in anything much, aside from Cobalt. Cobalt is a key ingredient to something we hold in our hands every single day – our iPhones. Cobalt is a key component of a lithium-ion battery, which is what powers our iPhones, androids, galaxies, and PCs. Experts say that over half of the worlds cobalt supply comes from the DRC.
As useful as cobalt is for the modern day technologies you’d think that the DRC should be benefiting from their wealthy supply of it, but you’d be wrong again. While they are certainly wealthy in cobalt they aren’t wealthy in much of anything else. In fact, children are sent to dangerous artisanal cobalt mines at ages as young as seven years old! They are subjected to unlivable living situations, working in the pouring rain, storms, record high temperatures, and no ventilation. The mines that the majority of DRC citizens are mining in aren’t even government regulated or authorized. They are extremely dangerous and the United Nations predicts that there are some 40,000 children working in them right now.
Children as young as seven years old are carrying mining sacks full of minerals that weight more than they themselves do. Children who are able to go to school must work in the mines on the weekends and afternoons to help support the family. Many of them suffer from severe breathing disorders and complications. Half of them are even reported being beat to death for not working fast enough.
Other health complications these children suffer from are joint and bone deformities, respiratory issues, and musculoskeletal issues. Too much exposure to cobalt can cause a condition called Hard metal Lung Disease, a disease in which the alveoli in the lungs solidify due to the harsh exposure. Studies show that these children work with no protective gear whatsoever – not even a mask. Who is responsible for this? We;;, it all leads back to the Congo Dongfang Mining International (CDM). This is a China-based company that supplies batteries to Apple, Sony, and Samsung.
Bet you didn’t know your iPhone came at the price of young innocent lives…