We believe tech giants like Microsoft are using cobalt mined by children to power their products.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo children as young as seven work 12 hour days inhaling toxic dust while hand digging cobalt. Some are beaten by the guards, many have nothing to eat all day.

Microsoft are not doing enough to stop child labour being used in their products. Tell them to launch an immediate investigation.

Microsoft: Investigate child labour claims

The situation

'I worked in the mines because my parents couldn’t afford to pay for food and clothes for me. There is lots of dust. It is very easy to catch colds. We hurt all over.'
Paul, 14, started working in the mines at 12

Our investigators have uncovered terrible exploitation of children in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). 

Children as young as seven are mining cobalt, toiling in dangerous conditions for the rare metal that’s a crucial component in our laptops and mobile phones.

It’s backbreaking work. For 12 hours a day they lug huge, heavy sacks, breathing in toxic dust. They have no protection for their young bodies – no gloves and no masks.

Our damning evidence

Using public records we tracked the supply of this hand-dug cobalt, through a company in China, to some of the biggest consumer electronics corporations in the world.

After raising our concerns, some companies we spoke to have taken steps to investigate their supply chains and have helped by publishing lists of their cobalt smelters and refiners in line with international standards. 

However, none are doing enough to stop human rights abuses in their supply chains. None have said they’ll help improve the situation for those harmed by their operations. Although the price of cobalt has soared, the miners have seen none of the benefits. 

In all this Microsoft are still sitting on the fence, and have taken little action. This is simply not good enough for one of the world’s largest electronics companies.

Child labour is a human rights issue

Our researchers found that child miners in the DRC work in extremely dangerous conditions, with inadequate safety equipment, for very little money.

This is one of the worst forms of child labour, which governments are required to prohibit and eliminate.

Corporations are also required by UN standards to identify and prevent adverse impacts on human rights. This means they must disclose what they’re doing to make sure child labour isn’t being used anywhere in their cobalt supply chain.

Microsoft must also remedy any harm caused to people whose human rights have been abused.

Tell Microsoft to investigate its supply chain for child labour now.