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Apple, Google, Tesla among companies accused of using child labor in Africa

A lawsuit filed this week in Washington, D.C., alleges that some of the world’s largest technology firms knowingly engaged in the usage of child labor in Africa’s cobalt mines.

The suit was filed by nongovernmental organization International Rights Advocates and mentions Apple, Dell, Microsoft, Tesla and Alphabet, the parent company of Google, USA Today reports.

Cobalt is an essential part of rechargeable lithium batteries that power many of the electronic devices that the listed companies sell. 

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According to the suit, two mining companies — British company Glencore and Chinese company Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt — supplied cobalt to all of the defendants.

Because of this, the suit asserts, the named tech giants are “aiding and abetting the cruel and brutal use of young children” in the mines that are located in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Dell told The Hill that it “never knowingly sourced operations using any form of involuntary labor, fraudulent recruiting practices or child labor.”

Apple said in a statement that it is “deeply committed to the responsible sourcing of materials that go into our products” and that Apple “removed” six cobalt refiners from its supply chain in 2019 for not meeting the company’s safety standards.

In a statement, Google told The Hill “child labor and endangerment is unacceptable and our Supplier Code of Conduct strictly prohibits this activity.”

The other companies named in the lawsuit did not immediately respond to USA Today’s request for comment.

The Hill has reached out to Apple, Microsoft and Tesla for comment.

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