Climate Friendly Lithium Battery Horror: Lawsuit Accuses Alphabet, Apple, Dell and Tesla of Complicity in Child Exploitation

Child Cobalt Miners in Kailo, Congo - Author Julien Harneis, source Wikimedia.
Child Cobalt Miners in Kailo, Congo – Author Julien Harneis, source Wikimedia.

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

According to International Rights Advocates, Alphabet, Apple, Dell and Tesla have structured their supply chain oversight procedures in a way which makes them inaccessible to their alleged victims.

Alphabet, Apple, Dell, Tesla, Microsoft exploit child labor to mine cobalt for batteries, human-rights warriors claim

Woke tech giants sued for ‘knowingly benefiting from … the cruel and brutal use of young children’

By Thomas Claburn in San Francisco 16 Dec 2019 at 22:57

Updated Google-parent Alphabet, Apple, Dell, Microsoft, and Tesla have been accused of “knowingly benefiting from and aiding and abetting the cruel and brutal use of young children in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to mine cobalt,” a key component of the lithium-ion batteries that these companies obtain from suppliers like Glencore, Umicore, and Huayou Cobalt to power their products.

On Sunday, International Rights Advocates, aka IRAdvocates, a Washington, DC-based human-rights advocacy group, filed a complaint [PDF] on behalf of 13 unnamed plaintiffs, each either a minor miner injured in DRC cobalt operations or a relative of a child killed or maimed in a mining-related accident. They’re unnamed not because they’re unknown, the complaint says, but because their lives are at risk for challenging powerful businesses and DRC government officials who benefit from the status quo.

“Plaintiffs and the other child miners producing cobalt for Defendants Apple, Alphabet, Dell, Microsoft, and Tesla typically earn US$2-3 dollars per day and, remarkably, in many cases even less than that, as they perform backbreaking and hazardous work that will likely kill or maim them,” the complaint says.

“Rather than taking meaningful action to prevent further deaths and maiming of children in the DRC cobalt mines, Defendants Apple, Alphabet, Dell, and Microsoft and Tesla also claim to have ‘voluntary programs’ to stop themselves from using prohibited child labor and forced labor in their supply chains,” the complaint says.

Apple’s child labor prevention program, the complaint says, is typical in that it relies on letting people anonymously report labor abuses in a situation that makes such reports unlikely.

The program, the complaint says, relies on getting “largely illiterate, desperately poor, and exceedingly vulnerable people to figure out Apple’s complaint mechanism and report supply chain violations when they certainly cannot afford personal computers or iPhones and they do not have internet or cell phone access to connect to the outside world within the context of a violent regime that does not tolerate dissent and an unregulated industry that could retaliate with impunity against any whistleblowers.”

Read more:

Cobalt is an essential component of high capacity lithium batteries used in modern electronic equipment, mobile phones, laptops and electric vehicles.

The Democratic Republic of Congo provides a cheap source of Cobalt by exploiting children – sending children into horrific unsafe conditions, where many of them die, either from mine accidents or from exposure to the toxic Cobalt minerals they are mining.

The named companies claim they have procedures in place to try to stamp out this evil. The lawsuit alleges these procedures are an exercise in plausible deniability.

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December 18, 2019 6:21 pm

As long as the end product comes with a reassuring green tick of approval, the social justice warrior conscience will be satisfied.

If such a thing exists.

December 18, 2019 6:23 pm

re: ” The Democratic Republic of Congo provides a cheap source of Cobalt by exploiting children …”

HOW DEEP into this is China?

Reply to  _Jim
December 18, 2019 6:52 pm

Let’s blame China for everything. If not them, then let’s blame the Russians. Whatever you do, just don’t look in the mirror.

Reply to  Alex
December 18, 2019 7:27 pm

Says the person most likely posting from a cell phone, or something else that uses Lithium batteries.

Reply to  Jeff Alberts
December 18, 2019 8:03 pm

My point was that some people like to blame some boogey man for all the ills of the world, but they never see themselves (or their own country) as part of the problem.
On a personal note, I have no interest in forgoing personal pleasures, much like everyone else. I’m no SJW, bleeding heart or hypocrite. Life can be a bitch sometimes. You either get through it or you don’t. If I have a problem with something I don’t wring my hands, I attempt to do something about it. There are unhappy things happening all over the world, but it’s not my problem. I have my own things to deal with.

Reply to  Alex
December 18, 2019 8:10 pm

re: “My point was that some people like to blame some boogey man for all the ills of the world,”

This justifies, drives the guilt-ridden ‘red’ (read that as commie) white man to condemn his own nationality and (perceived as evil) life style?

Just trying to pin down your thought process, where you are coming from, what your irrational motivation is …

Randy Wester
Reply to  Alex
December 18, 2019 9:16 pm

Follow the link and read the whole article. The buyers are represemtatives of chinese companies.

There is enough cobalt in known reserves in Australia to make 70 million Tesla cars. And the chemistry was changing to use a third of the cobalt, so 200 million cars. Why not boycott the DRC?

Ferd III
Reply to  Alex
December 18, 2019 11:37 pm

SJW and the virtue signalling low IQs would never introspect, analyse or find themselves unworthy of grand praise, applause and commendation. Green Fascists are not well known to be highly intelligent or self-aware.

Slave Labour for them is just ‘breaking eggs’ to make the Green Omelette. The same group descries that Communism will work fine – only if it is implemented properly – and if 100 million die, well eggs and omelettes etc. etc. Green Fascism. Whatever is good for the cult…

Reply to  Alex
December 19, 2019 5:31 am

Reply to Randy Wester

There are currently over a billion cars on the roads at the moment with huge growth in China and India.

Cobalt has many uses other than in batteries – I use cobalt steel machine cutting tools. Hypothetically even if the entire reserves in Australia were to be used for batteries there is going to be a very severe shortfall between the number of EVs that can be made verses the number of vehicles required by consumers.

Randy Wester
Reply to  Martin
December 19, 2019 8:00 am

Yes, and theoretically, lithium batteries can be made without any cobalt. That is Tesla’s stated goal.

And electric cars or fuel cell cars can be made with fewer lithium batteries or with alternative technologies.

There were ‘artisanal’ miners in the DRC before Dr Goodenough invented the lithium ion battery. And in the Yukon or California during the gold rush.

There are thousands of orphans in the DRC and not much of a social safety net. I didn’t create that situation and would certainly do what I can to ease it.

But switching to carbide cutting tools, lead acid batteries in my phone and holding on to the old pickup in the faint hope that it helps orphans in the DRC is some pretty damn weak tea. Better we should eschew gold.

There are aid organizations both inside and outside the DRC that are helping orphans and families, they’re not hard to find. Maybe the Chinese mining company buyers are doing more good for more families than Barrick Gold. At least they don’t have to use mercury to separate the cobalt in the family cooking pot, and at least cobalt isn’t just used for ornamentation by rich people.

Reply to  Alex
December 19, 2019 7:23 am

There is ZERO requirement to use cobalt within Li batteries.

Lithium iron phosphate battery (LiFePO4)”Transportation – Higher discharge rates needed for acceleration, lower weight and longer life makes this battery type ideal for bicycles and electric cars. 12V LiFePO4 batteries are also gaining popularity as a second (house) battery for a caravan, motor-home or boat.”

This whole fake quandary is a red-herring and derailment from the facts.

Reply to  Alex
December 19, 2019 9:30 am

Randy Wester, Are you serious about this? “…and at least cobalt isn’t just used for ornamentation by rich people.” You’re using gold right now, even without wearing jewelry.

It looks to me as if less than 40 percent of gold is used for jewelry.

Randy Wester
Reply to  RG
December 19, 2019 9:59 am

Right, minerals are everywhere, so if somone truly cares about the orphans and the poor, they would care about all the issues, rather than focusing on one element on the periodic table and the thinnest of connections to a tiny possibility that someone in the West is using something they once touched.

Some of these artisanal mines are stripped and laid out expressly for the poor to pick through, so that people keep away from the more dangerous mechanized mines. And probably the multinational mining companies would much rather just hire local thugs to use force to keep the poor out altogether, and prevent anyone (else) from accessing the resource. The seem to be quite effective at de-legitimizing anyone else’s mine but their own – Propaganda is so much cheaper.

And some of the children are brought to the mines by parents, or by a surviving parent, as a choice.

Mark Luhman
Reply to  Alex
December 20, 2019 9:18 pm

I personal think that the belief that we can keep out complex society using renewable and batteries is a pipe dream. The real people that denial culpability in this are the greens, somehow i think one hybrid or electric car has far more to do with the exploitation of there children that I do using my cell phone. Add in the greenies keep the United States from exploiting it Cobalt deposits adds to the stupidity.

Reply to  Alex
December 18, 2019 7:37 pm

Look up Sicomines. DRC government sold the majority of their cobalt mining rights to China.

Reply to  Meanonsunday
December 18, 2019 8:12 pm

So what. It’s business. It’s up to the DRC to look after it’s citizens. Most corporations rape for money, that includes the corporations of the US, Europe etc., that is what the post is about.
If you don’t like it then do something about it.

Reply to  Alex
December 18, 2019 8:17 pm

re: “So what. It’s business. It’s up to the DRC to look after it’s citizens.”

SAYS the guy now after I previously just asked “HOW DEEP into this is China?”

I don’t think you comment, argue or post “in good faith”.

I think I heard your ‘buddies’ from the left side of the aisle arguing today for an impeachment on the slimmest to (actually) no demonstrated grounds whatsoever, too. Seems as if it takes a complete inability to ‘grasp facts’ in order to argue in such a manner …

Reply to  Alex
December 18, 2019 9:10 pm

I assumed it was a rhetorical question. I don’t know how ‘deep’ China is into it and neither do you. Perhaps that’s why you asked the question. I simply don’t care. I suggest you do your own research or find someone who does care to answer your question. Don’t include me in your echo chamber.
I’m neither left or right. I don’t have buddies because I’m basically a misanthropist. I think impeaching Trump is absolute foolishness. I think the government should be about improving the lot of the people instead of wasting time on nonsense.

Reply to  Alex
December 19, 2019 9:31 am

“Most companies rape for money”

Actually, most companies don’t.
Regardless even the worst company is an angel compared to your average government.

Reply to  Alex
December 19, 2019 9:35 am

One thing I’ve noticed over the years is that the further to the left someone is, the more likely they are to claim that they are neither left nor right.

It isn’t the job of government to improve anyone’s life. That’s your job.
Having government take someone else’s money and then use that money to do things that you consider good provide no benefit to anyone.
For example, government declared war on poverty almost 60 years ago, and so far poverty is winning.

Mark Luhman
Reply to  Alex
December 20, 2019 9:26 pm

Companies cannot force you to do anything without the aid of government. Government is the only entity in the world that can legally force you to do something back up with a gun. Almost all other instance of coercion with a gun is illegal.

Reply to  Alex
December 18, 2019 8:00 pm

re: “Let’s blame China for everything. If not them, then let’s blame the Russians. Whatever you do, just don’t look in the mirror.”

G D it boy, China IS ‘good’ for a lot of this, and are into (some) EXPLOITATION in countries where they *want* to form strategic military and economic alliances.

I asked a question, too, boy, in case you missed it.

BTW, boy, its not really exploitation when the ppl/kids you employ can earn enough to survive versus die slow deaths due to disease and starvation; check you own ‘western’ guilt-tripping mirror, boy.

Trying to Play Nice
Reply to  _Jim
December 19, 2019 4:43 pm

Who says he’s Western. He could very well be a Chinese troll.

Reply to  Trying to Play Nice
December 19, 2019 4:55 pm

re: “Who says he’s Western. He could very well be a Chinese troll.”

Chinese trolls are busy with – where is Hong Kong? – right now …

Do you get out much, read the news?

Reply to  Alex
December 19, 2019 7:25 am

“Let’s blame China for everything.” China is the one doing this because the rest of the world is buying this Green Dream and then purchasing the products from the cheapest source – like all good businessmen – and these companies know and are ignoring the Total environmental and personal impacts of this Green Dream that will destroy and kill more that it saves.
SOLAR and WIND kill more than any other form of power generation – and those numbers only count those working in the generation of electricity. The deaths of miners, flora and fauna is ignored, hidden and disputed when mentioned. The green dream only helps those pushing the dream and the politicians writing the laws get richer NOT the environment.

Reply to  _Jim
December 19, 2019 4:34 am

the article I red last night mentions one chinese company, but theres quite a few of them and Id guess a varied ownership too , well hidden in llc and offshored setups
appears a lot of the cobalts sent to europe for processing then shipped from there which helps muddy the source rather conveniently

nw sage
December 18, 2019 6:30 pm

I wonder if anyone asked the unnamed ‘victims’ If they wanted to do the ‘work’ anyway. The alternative being starvation. “Mining” cobalt probably is the only way available to get ANY income to get food.

Reply to  nw sage
December 18, 2019 7:02 pm

There’s probably a waiting list of workers.

Reply to  Alex
December 18, 2019 8:05 pm

re: Alex December 18, 2019 at 7:02 pm
There’s probably a waiting list of workers.

But – wouldn’t that be the ‘imagined’ EXPLOITATION the poisoned mind of a ‘red’ SJWer like yourself quite probably sees, Alex?

Reply to  _Jim
December 19, 2019 12:10 am

Why don’t the SJWs volunteer to provide reliefs for the child miners? They would have a nice holiday in DRC and get some well needed exercise. /S

Reply to  nw sage
December 18, 2019 7:32 pm

Don’t worry they’ll get a postcard after the trial is over giving them a 25% discount on Apple, Tesla, Alphabet, etc. products. Meanwhile the attorneys representing their interests will split millions.

Reply to  Scissor
December 18, 2019 8:13 pm

Haha. You are probably right.

Greg Cavanagh
Reply to  Alex
December 18, 2019 9:14 pm


The litigant is “International Rights Advocates, a Washington, DC-based human-rights advocacy group”. I’ll bet this is nothing but a money grab. The Congo people will not receive a red cent or any help in finding (or generating) other work. Left for dead and forgotten about more likely.

Chris Hanley
Reply to  nw sage
December 18, 2019 8:57 pm

Fallacy of relative privation.

Reply to  Chris Hanley
December 19, 2019 9:39 am

No such fallacy.
Since you are so caring, what are you doing to help these children? Or are you one of those people who believes that your responsibility ends with the virtue signalling?

Chris Hanley
Reply to  MarkW
December 19, 2019 12:31 pm

Dear Mr anonymous,
Using relative privation as an argument is trying to make a situation look better by comparing it to the worst extreme.
Pointing that out is not virtue signalling and there is no reason to jump on your high horse and descend to gratuitous abuse.

Reply to  Chris Hanley
December 19, 2019 5:07 pm

Those who spend their time whining about how bad others have it while doing everything in their power to make their situation worse, deserve all the abuse they get, gratuitous or not.

Reply to  nw sage
December 18, 2019 10:12 pm

This is probably the 5th article I’ve addressed on this subject in 2 years. It’s like nobody researched this issue to find that these “Children” are getting the Minimum Wages set by the DRC to work. This is how these Children provide for their families welfare to live above the poverty level in their country as unskilled labor. It’s the Western countries that outlawed “child labor” where the majority of Cultures in countries have no problem with children working. Child labor was legal in America until the Women’s Movement for equality gave them the right to vote and pushed the Child Labor Act to stop children from working. But that doesn’t apply to Farm Labor in the USA, only nonfarm labor. Thousands of families starved and were kicked out of housing when these Children were forced to not work during The Great Depression. Mostly these were families that were single parent home’s of military men that fought in WW1 and WW2 of which many were KIA. The narrative that these Children are Exploited is oftentimes wrong. Our culture is different than their cultures. And yet these people are trying to force our cultural differences upon them, that will cause the same problems it’s caused America and other Western Countries.

John Endicott
Reply to  nw sage
December 19, 2019 5:41 am

I wonder if anyone asked the unnamed ‘victims’ If they wanted to do the ‘work’ anyway. The alternative being starvation.

I wonder if anyone asks the trafficked “sex workers” and pimped prostititues if they wanted to do the “work” anyway. The alternative being beaten by their pimps, starvation and/or death. Just because the alternatives are bad does not mean it’s not exploitation.

Paul Hull
Reply to  John Endicott
December 19, 2019 1:19 pm

Oh please, John E. Really? Making $2-3 is huge in the survival of the families involved. These kids are no different than the workers who showed up at the building of Hoover Dam, hoping to get a job working in 120 degree plus heat so their families could eat and have shelter. People will do what they have to do to survive because the have a sense of responsibility and because they and the family will starve if they don’t. This money is enough to raise they over the absolute poverty line set by the UN as a goal to be reached by 2030. It is not exploitation, it is opportunity.


John Endicott
Reply to  Paul Hull
December 20, 2019 5:20 am

Oh please yourself, Paul H. The money some prostitutes make is huge in the survival of their families too. It’s still exploitation. Sad to hear you are an apologist for human trafficking, slavery, and child exploitation.

Randy Wester
Reply to  John Endicott
December 21, 2019 10:02 am

Whoa! When did all work become ‘slavery’? And all transport of workers and familiea from one region to another become ‘human trafficking’?

And all buying of anything containing the element ‘Cobalt’ become equivalent to what the bad man did on the internet?

And if all the good you do in the world is scolding others when you’re confused, what use are you? Why are you not directly supporting Amnesty International or any other good NGOs with your own hard work, or the money that comes from it?

Randy Wester
Reply to  John Endicott
December 20, 2019 10:29 pm

Just because someone writes a clickbait article naming Tesla doesn’t mean anything at all.

Dodgy Geezer
December 18, 2019 6:31 pm

A lot of countries have internal practices that Western states don’t like. Much of the Middle East and China, for a starter.

Yet we keep buying oil and consumer goods from them… .

Reply to  Dodgy Geezer
December 19, 2019 5:43 am

Not anymore. We’re a net exporter of oil now. But Democrats are trying to reverse that.

Randy Wester
Reply to  Luke
December 19, 2019 8:15 am

The USA is an oil exporter, but not a NET exporter. (as of 2018 11% imports) But it may break even in 2019 or 2020

It might be wise to dial back the extraction so as to maximize the lifetime energy yield of the resource. Y’all are allowing a lot of flaring these days and 50 years from now it’s still going to be freakin’ cold in Minnesota in January. So take it easy.

Reply to  Randy Wester
December 19, 2019 9:45 am

Smarter to use it now in order to grow the economy, then use that wealth to develop something better.

Randy Wester
Reply to  MarkW
December 20, 2019 7:05 am

It would indeed. It’s what made the U.S a world power, provided the wealth for the technology we have today.

It’s unfortunate that the nalance of trade was allowed to go so much toward the Middle East since the 1950’s, but this near independance might start to refill Fort Knox.

Reply to  Randy Wester
December 19, 2019 9:46 am

The US imports some oil in order to refine it and then export it.
You are excluding the exported refined products from your list.

Randy Wester
Reply to  MarkW
December 20, 2019 6:58 am

No, I’m not excluding refined products. For example the U.S. imports 4 mm bbl a day from Canada and ezports 1 mm bbl of refined products back. Source

The source may not include LNG and plastics, but appears to unclude NGLs used as diluent. And the stats were for 2018 so an average for a year ended 50 weeks ago.

John Endicott
Reply to  Randy Wester
December 20, 2019 5:27 am

Randy you clearly don’t understand what “NET” means. It doesn’t, as you wrongly appear to think, mean we don’t import at all. It means we export *more* than we import.

“Crude, refined products exports exceed imports in weekly data”

So, contrary to your wrong assertion, Randy, the US is indeed a NET exporter of oil.

Randy Wester
Reply to  John Endicott
December 20, 2019 6:35 am

The U.S was a net exporter for a week in December 2018 due to low demand. It didn’t necessarily continue through yhe next 54 weeks.

Over the 2018 year, still a net importer of 11 percent of total oil used. Less net imports than in 2017.

It does look like the U.S. supply could exceed demand soon, especially if the economy slows.

Reply to  Randy Wester
December 20, 2019 8:42 am

re: “Over the 2018 year, still a net importer of 11 percent of total oil used. Less net imports than in 2017.”

Explain which ‘parts’ of the US did the importing, and why. Also talk about ‘fungible’ resources.

Def. fungible
(of goods contracted for without an individual specimen being specified) able to replace or be replaced by another identical item; mutually interchangeable.

Randy Wester
Reply to  _Jim
December 20, 2019 9:41 pm

What exactly did you want explained? Vaclav Smil and David Mackay are better writers, and has a lifetime of reading.

Or to put it another way, it doesn’t matter to me, I don’t care. I just pointed out a factual error.

Imports and exports of various petroleum fluids fluctuate. The imports and exports are close to equal most weeks, the imports are no longer economically crippling.

Reply to  Randy Wester
December 21, 2019 6:29 am

re: “What exactly did you want explained?”

Question was above your ‘pay grade’?

John Endicott
Reply to  John Endicott
December 20, 2019 9:35 am

You are still (willfully?) failing to understand a very simple concept.

Net exports definition
Net Exports. Net exports are the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.

so a net oil exporter would be when a countries total exports is greater than it’s total imports.

The US exports more than it imports. It doesn’t matter how much imports it uses (so your 11% figure is rather meaningless as to whether or not the US is a net exporter) as long as it exports more than that in order to be called net. period.

And if it wasn’t for the far-left anti-domestic oil production policies that make states like California net importers, the US as a whole would have been a net exporter a lot sooner than it has.

Randy Wester
Reply to  John Endicott
December 20, 2019 9:27 pm

The U.S. was not a net importer last week. Or the week before. The imports were more than the exports.

John Endicott
Reply to  Luke
December 20, 2019 5:41 am

Indeed we are Luke, however, some states (like California) are still net importers, due to the Democrat policies that are not friendly to domestic oil production. And the Dems would love to push those policies onto the rest of the country.

December 18, 2019 6:44 pm

The narrative changes. Now it’s the people that try to meet the eco sanctions? What a joke, they will consume themselves.

December 18, 2019 6:51 pm

Go read the filed complaint linked above.
The plaintiffs lawyers are trying to blame Google, Apple, Dell, Microsoft, Tesla for the ills of 160+ years of colonial exploitation of Central Africa. Tactic: Simply smear their reputations with photos of injured children in a PR stunt, just enough to be an irritant for deep-pocketed defendants to want to get rid of quietly in a settlement with an NDA for all parties. Discovery and going to trial would be far more expensive than just giving the blood sucker leaches a few million and moving on with business. It’s how the game is played. And why so many ambulance chasers drive very nice German-made cars.

Obviously a just shakedown with hope to settle for some cash for the ambulance chasers.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
December 18, 2019 7:07 pm

I tend to agree with you on that one, if there is a case and “damages” awarded you can bet IRAdvocates will get most of it. Poor child miners injured, maimed or relatives of those killed will be last on the list of recipients, if at all.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Patrick MJD
December 18, 2019 7:29 pm

It seems the “K” word gets flagged for moderation.

Reply to  Patrick MJD
December 19, 2019 12:49 pm

even the word “sk!ll” (spelled properly) gets moderation. sigh.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
December 18, 2019 7:09 pm

The rich get Richer, and it’s green to be Green. That said, this is one of diverse rackets to force a consensus, redistributive change, and to encourage people to go along to get along or else. Still, play the bigotry game, get played by the bigotry game. All is equal in choice and [political] congruence.

Reply to  n.n
December 18, 2019 9:40 pm

The Green’s “green” is not the color of chlorophyll, that’s for sure.

December 18, 2019 6:59 pm

Tired of the use of words like “toxic” and “poison” and “chemical” attached to accounts of horrors to increase the signalling of harm.
There is nothing I know of that would make a cobalt mine environment chemically worse than any other metal sulphide mine environment. Some of these have incidental high levels of arsenic, which might be the justification for the label.
Look, I am a chemist by degrees, with 30 years as a geochemist working with mines. You authors of horror scenarios need to look at the specifiics of alleged harm and be accurate with quotes. Chemical industry workers have contributed enormously to your standard of living and mine, far in excess of any detriment you plausibly shall ever suffer.
Resist the urge to become chemophobic. Trendy, maybe. Truthful, no.
That said, I do not endorse child labour or abuse at all. Unless things have changed since I retired, I doubt that large corporations like Glencore are complicit. These large companies are staffed by Mums and Dads with aspirations for child wellbeing similar to ours. Not by ogres. Geoff S

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
December 18, 2019 8:36 pm

They left out the “becoming acidic” from the oxidation of the sulfides.

Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
December 19, 2019 6:42 am

Yes, let’s not be “chemophobic”. Toss out those stupid white protective suits, toss out the gloves, toss out the air quality monitors. After all, these kids mine in those conditions, so surely it’s completely harmless and only stupid Americans think it can hurt you. (Note: I have a degree in chemistry and despise all the chemophobia, but that doesn’t make your comment any less insulting.)

Reply to  Sheri
December 19, 2019 9:49 am

False dichotomy.
Not being chemophobic does not mean you don’t take necessary precautions.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Sheri
December 19, 2019 12:15 pm

It isn’t clear whether your comment was intended for Geoff, me, or both. In any event, I have more than a passing acquaintance with the chemistry and mineralogy of the cobalt minerals being mined. They are not inherently particularly dangerous. Probably, the dust the miners are breathing, resulting from digging, is the greatest risk they are exposed to.

Since you have a background in chemistry, you might find an article that I wrote on mineral toxicity to be of interest:

Scroll down to page 25 to find the article.

Pillage Idiot
December 18, 2019 7:05 pm

So I can now go around dumping cans of red paint on every Prius I encounter?

I think I will finger paint, “Blood Cobalt” on the door panels.

If I do this in NYC will I get the same punishment (i.e. none) that the PETA protesters get for lobbing paint on fur coats?

Randy Wester
Reply to  Pillage Idiot
December 20, 2019 3:52 am

The Prius uses nickel-cadmium batteries. The Prime uses a lithium-ion battery.

The mineral wealth of the DRC is estimated at $24 Trillion would make it the wealthiest country in the world. Constant political instability makes its people the poorest.

You could go there and paint cars instead, should be interesting.

John Endicott
Reply to  Pillage Idiot
December 20, 2019 5:45 am

What if it’s already a red colored car? the red paint won’t be so noticeable. just saying.

Randy Wester
Reply to  John Endicott
December 20, 2019 5:56 am

Why not use Cobalt Blue? Support the miners while making a statement.

Or real blood? It’s biodegradeable, and it looks real.

December 18, 2019 7:09 pm

We used to have horrible working conditions and lots of child labor. Thanks to fossil fuels and technology, that situation has greatly improved. In a couple of generations the Chinese people have gone from grinding poverty to a much better situation. The Chinese middle class is now something like 400 million people. There’s hope for Africa.

Reply to  commieBob
December 19, 2019 9:50 am

There’s hope for Africa, but only to the extent that they dump communism.

Reply to  MarkW
December 19, 2019 5:23 pm

I suppose it depends on how you define communism. Technically, there are only five countries that call themselves communist in the world, none of them in Africa. link

Reply to  commieBob
December 19, 2019 6:51 pm

When did Cuba dump the communism effort?

Randy Wester
Reply to  DonM
December 20, 2019 3:55 am

Cuba never dumped Communism, but it’s not supported by the Soviet Union.

December 18, 2019 7:48 pm

So, does this support the argument that renewable energy promises many jobs for the future? I mean, the demand for inhumane child miners will surely swell to unimaginable heights, once all the world is fully on board replacing fossil fuel with wind and solar, etc, which will require untold new amounts of cobalt, right?

Think of all those kiddies who will have jobs. [sick sarcasm, I know, but the real truth has to hurt, in order to fully realize it]

Bryan A
Reply to  Robert Kernodle
December 18, 2019 9:24 pm

Those would be the Minor Miners

Reply to  Robert Kernodle
December 19, 2019 1:41 am

… the demand for inhumane child miners will surely swell to unimaginable heights …

Then good old supply and demand sets in. After the plague in the 1300s, peasant labor became relatively scarce and wages and working conditions improved until the peasants over bred and increased the supply of labor. link

Randy West
Reply to  Robert Kernodle
December 26, 2019 1:25 am

Wouldn’t some of those 40 thousand children have grown older. And be young adults?

I saw a documentary about ship breakers in India. Some workers were children, I guess now we should stop using things that can go in ships, and stop using any metal that might have been made from recycled ship scrap.

Len Werner
December 18, 2019 8:18 pm

As someone pointed out in comments following the collapse of the ‘Exxon Knew’ lawsuit, many more people will hear about this suit being filed than will hear about any subsequent failure. QED.

I grew up on a farm; got awakened at 5 am when I reached 6 years of age and told that from now on I helped with every milking–was that now ‘exploitation of child labour’?–we called it a ‘family farm’, and every farm kid lived that way. My Dog, I could have been killed by a cow!

That’s right, I suppose, so one learned to keep away from the hooves and horns and to earn the animals’ confidence. It wasn’t hard.

December 18, 2019 9:01 pm

Woke lawyers suing woke companies and any settlement will go to the pockets of the lawyers I expect. I think we do have a responsibility to try and prevent exploitation. But I am a nasty rightie! It did occur to me when I read this that business really does need to decide who it gets into bed with. Woke groups turn on each other very rapidly!

Steve Wood
December 18, 2019 9:14 pm

Not sure if this point has been covered but in many 3rd World communities some work is better than no work even if that work is poor quality and exploitative. I am not suggesting that such work should be encouraged and alternatives not addressed but if you are going to remove sources of income from poor people, including child labour, then you have to make sure that their income is somehow replaced. Otherwise starvation results.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Steve Wood
December 18, 2019 11:46 pm

Here’s a thing about Africa, Ethiopia in this case. The last gift I received from Ethiopia was a cap. The cap was made in China. The Chinese have been nosing around in Ethiopia for years, in my personal experience since 2006. The Chinese don’t employ locals, they import workers as well as “invest”. The Ethiopians have to repay China by importing goods from China.

Italy has had a significant influence on Ethiopia, but was never colonised, and is the home of the company, still, building the largest dam in Africa.

December 18, 2019 9:16 pm

The bulk of the cobalt is coming out of the large industrial open pit copper mines in the Congo. This gets tacked on for a guilt trip, just like the worthless Exxon Knew court cases. This is a hoax, in so far as a court case goes. Sure there is child labour there and they are willing to to do that instead of starve to death. And many die, usually smothered to death by a collapsing wall of dirt because they have no safety standards. And their new Chinese overlords don’t give a damn anyway, just as they don’t care about their own people, or their neighbours in Tibet, the South China Sea or even the Uyghurs that they have now rounded up with a few million put into concentration camps. And the only one with guts to say anything is Trump. Maybe it is time to slap China upside their face before we have to nuke them into the stone age like we had to with Japan. The same thing is happening now with China as Japan in the 1930’s except this time it is global. And the only thing standing in their way is Trump.

We don’t need to to play this game with guilt trips where the trouble is the culture of the people. If you want to blame somebody, blame the Belgians, especially for what went on in the Congo. And read Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. The Belgian and German colonialism was some of the most brutal in Africa. That was 125-150 years ago now, and would be like continuing to harp on about slavery here in the USA. At some point you have to move on. But not with Red China who is everywhere right now like a dirty shirt. Clip the wings of Comrade Xi and the Reds in China, and that will solve much of the problems we have and will solve a lot of problems in the future if we don’t allow them to have their way with the world. Especially Africa which is getting raped by China as we speak.

Reply to  Earthling2
December 19, 2019 12:53 am

I wonder if we are misreading China’s foreign adventures, thinking of them as a copy of the imperialism of the British, French, Dutch etc in centuries past.
Take the island forts being built in the China Sea. Are they the springboard for foreign aggression or are they in fact a Wall, a more far- flung version of their many Great Walls. Perhaps what the Chinese are seeking is not imperialism , but protection. This is why they have isolated themselves from the rest of the global internet and why minorities with different cultures (eg Catholics, Uighur moslems) are regarded with such suspicion. Their history is one of isolation and defence from foreign intruders and western influence.
Of course my arguement is vulnerable to questions about Tibet , Hong Kong and Taiwan but it would be interesting to hear the comments from the “old China hands” on this site.

Reply to  mikewaite
December 19, 2019 3:09 am

The islands are created and populated. There is then a 200 nautical mile economic zone created around it. Any resources in that area belong to the occupying country. A simple way to gain a lot of territory without going to war. Link up the islands and the sea is yours.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Alex
December 19, 2019 3:31 am

Or even better, secure a 99 year lease on Port Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia granted in 2017.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Alex
December 19, 2019 4:59 am

China is seeking out resources whereever they can find them. The artificial islands are built as a means of claiming the territory around the islands as Chinese territory. China’s leaders are just waiting patiently until the world accepts this theft like they accepted the theft of Tibet by China.

China is a dictatorship which can focus the nation’s energy, unlike Democracies which are going in ten different directions at once, and are not bent on world domination. The current Chinese dictators have a long-term plan to dominate the world by any means necessary. They are proceeding with their plan while the rest of the world looks inward. Except for Trump. 🙂

December 18, 2019 9:50 pm

I always wonder why they blame the companies- and not the countries that allow this.

shortus cynicus
Reply to  Kristen
December 18, 2019 11:30 pm

It is because of a religious dogma, that some people, after they named themselves ‘government’, belongs then to special race, special cast that is by definition virtues and perfect. They can’t do wrong or immoral deeds by definition.

John Endicott
Reply to  shortus cynicus
December 19, 2019 5:21 am

shortus. that may be what those in those governments believe, but that has zero to do with whom *others* place the blame.

John Endicott
Reply to  Kristen
December 19, 2019 5:19 am

Why blame the companies? because you can take a company to court in any country they do business with and have a shot at winning the case and exacting punishment on the company. You can’t take a foreign country to court, and even if you somehow did, winning the case would be pointless as it would have no effect on the country which would refuse acknowledge the case as legitimate/refuse to pay out whatever the court awarded. Do you really think a rogue regime give two hoots what a foreign court (or even one of their own courts) says?

Reply to  Kristen
December 19, 2019 5:25 am

Which do you think is likely to be the more lucrative target?

Reply to  Kristen
December 19, 2019 7:55 am

Companies are conditioned by consumers to supply what the masses demand. Blame the masses, who don’t fret what they don’t know or can’t see.

But how do you blame an entity that does not have a unifying mind? — It’s a conundrum. Companies are the most proximate, organized cause, I guess, but, really, it’s everybody’s fault participating in the supply/consumption system.

Now the renewable-energy folks want to take this all to a whole ‘nother level — they just don’t realize it, or if they even remotely do, then they lie to themselves, deny, and hypocricize it into socially acceptable

Reply to  Robert Kernodle
December 19, 2019 5:09 pm

People demand that companies provide products as cheaply as possible, then complain when companies do just that.

Jim O.
December 18, 2019 11:12 pm

Glencore owned Cobalt reserves, are still in the ground in Northern Minnesota, due to years of wrangling with state, federal bureaucracies and endless lawsuits by environmental groups. It seems to me that a mining operation, that is required by state and federal law, to operate within those strict prescribed guidelines would also function with safe working conditions for its (adult) union employees. Perhaps Tesla et. al. should consider a domestic source not tainted by child labor and provide long term, living wage employment for the people of that region.

Reply to  Jim O.
December 19, 2019 4:46 am

yeah I reckon the above mentioned cobalt in Aus wont be mined anytime soo either due to the bloody greens wailing and blocking any attempt TO mine it.

so full of shit it was even getting the abc announcer miffed was the aus greens shiela today blathering on about oil drilling in the Bight risking spills going as far as the east coast ruining sth aus etc etc
truly awesome display of utterly stupid

Randy Wester
Reply to  Jim O.
December 19, 2019 6:51 am

Doesn’t sound like cobalt is in short supply worldwide. Australia’s known reserves would supply Tesla’s current usage for 128 years.

Development of North American resources should probably be a security goal regardless of how it’s mined in the DRC, one other use of cobalt is for jet engine turbines.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Randy Wester
December 19, 2019 9:10 pm

Another use of cobalt is as a binder for tungsten carbide in tool bits.

Coach Springer
December 19, 2019 4:44 am

Child labor seems like the tip of that climate tort iceberg.

Abolition Man
December 19, 2019 4:54 am

I didn’t realize colonialism and imperialism were such a big part of the Green Blob. I knew we were expected to suffer millions of bird and bat deaths for the good of Nature and that the idyllic live style of the Stone Age hunter-gatherer was the goal of advanced civilization; I guess I naively believed that somewhere, somehow, sometime the Green Meanies would do something that is ACTUALLY environmentally sound. My bad!

So the score card for Africa then is that after a thousand years of systematic slave wars, religious and tribal atrocities and other assorted inhumanity you should be happy with wonderful, inexpensive and reliable wind and solar power to make the climb out of poverty and need. Coal and natural gas generation plants are for the TRULY needy like China and India; we’re the Enlightened and we’ll tell you what you can do! Green on green lawsuits; what’s not like? OT, wouldn’t sugarcane ethanol be economically feasible in parts of Africa? I guess it’s not Green enough or “renewable.”

Randy Wester
Reply to  Abolition Man
December 19, 2019 7:31 am

We need cobalt for gas turbines, too. And a few more combined cycle plants in Saskatchewan and Alberta so our coal miners can focus on supplying China.

Rich Lambert
December 19, 2019 6:37 am

Several years ago the Dodd-Frank bill prohibited publicly traded companies from obtaining so called “Conflict Minerals” from mines in several countries. Further companies are supposed to provide traceability for the minerals to ensure they don’t come from one of the prohibited mines and include a statement of compliance in their reporting documents. The Securities Exchange Commission is supposed to enforce the law.

December 19, 2019 7:12 am

Lithium-Iron-Phosphate batteries (LiFeO4) do not use cobalt at all and these are also used in electric cars. Another major benefit of LIFeO4 is fast recharge, few issues with partial charging, and low risk of fires, particularly from a thermal-runaway. No one has to use cobalt within a modern Li battery.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  WXcycles
December 19, 2019 11:20 pm

Do these batteries suffer from dendrites which do lead to battery failure, sometimes bursting in to flames?

Reply to  Patrick MJD
December 20, 2019 8:48 am

re: “Do these batteries suffer from dendrites which do lead to battery failure, sometimes bursting in to flames?”

Do we have as extensive enough operational ‘record’ to fairly grade the performance of LiFeO4 cells vs conventional?

Patrick MJD
Reply to  _Jim
December 21, 2019 3:57 am

I don’t know. AFAIK, dendrites are caused by rapid charge/discharge of batteries with Li compounds in them.

December 19, 2019 8:03 am

I suggested to who handles the company’s PR that she write to Gavin Newsom, the Demo rat Governor of California about

I followed up by sending this to Louise.

However, Social Justice Warriors do not care about child exploitation.

Going Green has dreadful consequences for the third world; rather worse than “go woke, go broke”.

December 19, 2019 9:46 am

Good news for the tech giants.A HUGE new cobalt deposit has been discovered in —— Republic of Congo.
Luckily ,it’s only under a sprawling city. Times 19Dec 2019.

(Edited) SUNMOD

December 19, 2019 9:57 am

Faux pas on my part. Should have been Republic of CONGO.

Coeur de Lion
December 19, 2019 10:16 am

So a British owner of an EV needs to have a detached residence with a drive, a garage, a charging point, quite a lot of money and an inert conscience. Fie!!

December 19, 2019 1:19 pm

Go Gree… Gray.

December 19, 2019 1:23 pm

So very green. Go Green for green[backs]. Paint it gray.

December 19, 2019 1:56 pm

I thought that Federal Courts required Complaints to lead off with a recitation setting forth the basis for the Court’s jurisdiction over both the defendants and the subject matter. Didn’t see one. And the inclusion of photographs indicates to me that this is just for PR with no serious intent to bring it to trial. The Court should assess a large penalty on the lawyers involved. The theory that purchasers of products are liable for every injury suffered in production thereof is simple hogwash.
Anybody know where the DC Federal court gets jurisdiction in cases like this?

December 19, 2019 3:11 pm

lemme see here: several multi-billion corporations are implicated in odious practices, therefore Climate Change is a hoax.

do I have that right?

good thing Exxon/Mobile, et al. have never, ever been accused of exploitative practices! Otherwise, the climate denial business might experience a decline in profit.

Reply to  chris
December 19, 2019 5:12 pm

It really is pathetic how you repeatedly can’t accurately characterize the arguments of your opponents.

Nobody said anything about climate change. This article just points to the hypocrisy of those who claim to be both green and to care about poor people.

BTW, there’s a big difference between being accused of something and actually doing it.

Randy Wester
Reply to  MarkW
December 21, 2019 12:37 pm

This article has a splashy clickbait title, but no substance to back it up. Very Enquirer-esque.

So many humans claim to love their children, and also diamond jewelry. Yet diamond mining is pretty much the same as cobalt mining, gold mining, platinum mining, rhenium mining…

December 20, 2019 7:44 am

These children are obviously very dedicated to making sure their childhood isn’t stolen by climate change…

Johann Wundersamer
January 1, 2020 3:31 am

“Climate Friendly Lithium Battery Horror: Lawsuit Accuses Alphabet, Apple, Dell and Tesla of Complicity in Child Exploitation!”

“The named companies claim they have procedures in place to try to stamp out this evil. The lawsuit alleges these procedures are an exercise in plausible deniability.”


OMG, children & “plausible deniability”!

Companies, children, parents … Laws, Attorneys, Judges … all depends on settled case law:

As soon as parents provide Santa-Boot-Hangers at the fireplace the children loose “plausible deniability”

in debates according the real existence of Santa Claus.

May the best team win!

Autumn Leann McCall
January 1, 2020 9:45 am

Why don’t we just start using zero point energy? Look that one up you guys. Scientist have known how to do this for a long time…..

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