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Cobalt? In German it is known as Kobold which roughly translates to goblin or elf. It is in our paints, our cars and even air crafts… You name it! Cobalt is used in alloys for aircraft engine parts and in alloys with corrosion/ wear resistant uses, it’s used in batteries and to impart blue and green colors in glass and ceramics. Seems pretty important doesn’t it?I mean without cobalt we wouldn’t have phones or computers…


Cobalt mines in the DRC(Democratic republic of congo) have been a means of child exploitation. The tech giants are linked in actually using children to mine in these harsh conditions. Cobalt is highly toxic to the skin and even worse when it’s ingested. Imagine that these cobalt miners actually ingest water that has passed through the cobalt mines. Why? Because they have no other option. They mine all day and receive very low wages; not enough to survive.

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35,000 children…That is the number of children who are exploited in these mines. With no protective clothing, children as young as 4 years are sent to the mine for wages. What is even worse is that the demand for cobalt is on the rise. DRC mines 60% of the world’s cobalt. As it is now people and babies are dying at the mine everyday but the question is how sure are we that the phones, tablets and laptops that we are using are not tainted by the pure blood of children miners?

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But Ms Armistead says “walking away from the problem” is not the solution. “Companies cannot just impose a de facto boycott on the DRC’s cobalt, especially when they have been sourcing cobalt there. That would be a terrible blow to a country and region that relies on mining for income.”

Supply chain due diligence is not about avoiding risk altogether, but addressing it. Instead companies like BMW have a responsibility to investigate their supply chains to identify, prevent and address human rights risks and abuses in its cobalt supply chain, no matter where it is sourcing from. Failure to do so only paves the way for human rights abuses.

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Some few lucky souls have managed to escape the mine thanks to the Good shepherd International Foundation. This experience at the mine have left them with both physical and Mental scars. I believe by making supply chains more transparent maybe this labour might be curbed.

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Barbara Michoma,

The Traveling Mindset.

Published by Barbara Michoma

I am a tour operator in Kenya. I have a degree in Tourism Management and I have my own company known as The Traveling mindset Limited which is centered on giving people a chance to experience the world in a sustainable way. I am extremely passionate about climate change, human rights, sustainable tourism, accessible tourism and meeting new people and giving them unforgettable experiences. For fun I play hockey and read all kinds of books. I have two dogs and I love animals very much. My all time hobby though, is writing and sharing my thoughts with the world.

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