Microsoft Corporation found themselves on the defense when Amnesty International reported three years ago that the cobalt in some of their electronics was dug up by Congolese miners under inhumane conditions. Microsoft said they would audit their suppliers and fix the problem. Nothing happened!
concerned consumers, Dan, Lisa, Maria & Robin
At the Mutoshi cobalt mine, Congolese workers could be seen descending underground without helmets, shoes or safety equipment. The mine’s owner, Chemaf SARL, is key in the global cobalt supply chain for firms such as Microsoft. “Of course, people die,” said the CEO of Chemaf SARL in May 2019. “This is really shi@]#y work.” He called the miners “barbarians” and said Chemaf resisted giving them safety equipment because they would sell it.
Microsoft should stop as soon as possible with sourcing Cobalt from the Mutoshi mine, in order to halt the exploitation of Congolese miners.
We are concerned electronics consumers from Columbus (OH). We started this protest as a group of four friends in 2019: Dan, Lisa, Maria, and Robin.
Our protest has been growing ever since. Join us too!
We have alarmed Microsoft multiple times about the inhumane circumstances of Congolese miners at their suppliers' sites. In our calls, we urged them to take measure to stop the exploitation! Unfortunately, we have not received a response yet.
Commenting on new research by the universities of Lubumbashi, Leuven and Ghent, which suggests that exposure to toxic pollution is causing birth defects in the children of cobalt and copper miners in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mark Dummett, Head of Business, Security and Human Rights at Amnesty International, said:
“When you visit this area of the DRC, one of the most striking things you see is just how polluted it is, and just how little is being done by the government and mining companies to prevent pollution and protect the people living and working there. They simply can’t escape the dust.”
“When we first went into mines in 2015 we saw how men, women and children were working without even the most basic protective equipment such as gloves and face masks, and miners told us about health conditions they experienced, including coughing, pain in their lungs and urinary tract infections.
In one village we visited, people showed us how the water in the local stream that they drank that they said was contaminated by the discharge of waste from a mineral processing plant.”
“There has been mining in the Katanga region for over 100 years, but there has been tragically little research into the impact that pollution has had. This report should prompt the DRC authorities to urgently step up their investigation into the impact of this pollution, and health monitoring of people working in the mines.”
“The alarming findings of this report suggest that the damage done may have a long legacy. This demonstrates the need for greater regulation of the mining sector to enforce environmental and worker protections. This also shows why the multinationals who profit from these mines need to fulfil their responsibility to respect human rights, ensuring they prevent pollution that damages people and the planet. They also need to provide remedy to those who have been harmed by their business operations. The DRC’s mining sector should benefit local communities, not just powerful corporations.”
Microsoft has made least progress!
Major electronics and electric vehicle companies are still not doing enough to stop human rights abuses entering their cobalt supply chains, almost two years after an Amnesty International investigation exposed how batteries used in their products could be linked to child labour in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the organization said today.
A new report, Time to Recharge, ranks industry giants including Apple, Samsung Electronics, Dell, Microsoft, BMW, Renault and Tesla on how much they have improved their cobalt sourcing practices since January 2016. It finds that while a handful of companies have made progress, others are still failing to take even basic steps like investigating supply links in the DRC.
Microsoft, for example, is among 26 companies that have failed to disclose details of their suppliers, like the companies who smelt and refine the cobalt they use.
This means Microsoft is not in compliance with even the basic international standards.