Apple says it’s temporarily stopped buying cobalt (used in lithium ion batteries) mined by hand in Congo while it continues to deal with problems with child labor and harsh work conditions. A Washington Post investigation last year detailed abuses in Congo’s artisanal cobalt supply chain, showing how miners labored in hazardous, even deadly, conditions.
Last year, Apple pledged to clean up its cobalt supply chain, but the tech giant said it wanted to avoid hurting the Congolese miners by cutting them off. Mining provides vital income for hundreds of thousands of people in what is one of the world’s poorest countries. Now, Apple tells the Post it’s stopped buying cobalt from artisanal mines, at least temporarily.
“We have been working with Huayou on a program that will verify individual artisanal mines, according to our standards,” Apple said in a statement, “and these mines will re-enter our supply chain when we are confident that the appropriate protections are in place.”