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Washington Post Feature on Cobalt Mining in the Congo

Terrific feature by The Washington Post on the treacherous small-scale mining for cobalt — an essential component of lithium-ion batteries — in the Congo. Here’s a bit on Apple’s role:

Apple, in response to questions from The Post, acknowledged that this cobalt has made its way into its batteries. The Cupertino, Calif.-based tech giant said that an estimated 20 percent of the cobalt it uses comes from Huayou Cobalt. Paula Pyers, a senior director at Apple in charge of supply-chain social responsibility, said the company plans to increase scrutiny of how all its cobalt is obtained. Pyers also said Apple is committed to working with Huayou Cobalt to clean up the supply chain and to addressing the underlying issues, such as extreme poverty, that result in harsh work conditions and child labor.

The whole story is fascinating and incredibly well-reported and illustrated. But you must watch the video shot by a creuseur (French for “digger”) descending into one of the mines. It’s so clearly dangerous and profoundly claustrophobic, I found it hard to breathe while watching.

Monday, 3 October 2016