Child and Forced Labor in Artisanal Cobalt Mining in the Congo: New Cobalt Fund supports “GoodStone” Initiative


The Issue

Child Laborer India

Cobalt is used in almost every lithium-ion rechargeable battery on the planet, ending up in supply chains of smartphones, tablets, laptops, electric vehicles and other major consumer electronic products. The market for these batteries is growing rapidly, estimated to be fourfold by 2030. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) sits on the world’s largest cobalt deposits, representing more than 70% of global supply, and approximately one-third of this cobalt is extracted from artisanal miners, through a hidden economy where children and adults toil as slaves. For their backbreaking efforts, toxic exposure, immense suffering, and risk of death, artisanal miners typically earn between $0.75 and $2.50 per day.

There is currently no way to verify that the end products containing lithium-ion rechargeable batteries by your favorite mobile phone or electric car company are clean from worker exploitation or environmental harm.

About the GoodStone Initiative

Child Laborer India

Through our new GoodStone initiative, GoodWeave International and front-line partners in the DRC plan to pilot a project to establish the first fully independent artisanal mining certification and community-based assessment system. This system will ultimately become a voluntary standard, similar to the GoodWeave Standard, to ensure international human rights and sustainability requirements are maintained by participating mining operations in the DRC. GoodStone will also transition children out of artisanal mining and address the root causes of labor exploitation in artisanal cobalt mining through rights awareness, financial literacy and other critical support.

GoodStone advisors maintain strong ties to governments in the mining provinces of Lualaba and Haut-Katanga known as “the Copper Belt” where millions of vulnerable Congolese people live and work. Project interventions will engage stakeholders in this region, including cobalt miners, artisanal mining cooperatives, community-based organizations and other NGOs; provincial governments; national actors, like the Ministry of Mines, and companies sourcing lithium-ion batteries.

How You Can Help

GoodWeave has established a special Cobalt Fund to support the development and implementation of the GoodStone pilot project, as well as provide support to front-line human rights groups to address urgent needs of artisanal cobalt miners currently facing exploitation.

Your donation to the Cobalt Fund will go directly to this new work to restore rights to artisanal cobalt miners in the DRC. DONATE NOW.

To learn more, email GoodStone@goodweave.org.

Photos: © Siddharth Kara