From Kolwezi To iPhones: The Cobalt Supply Chain

Artisinal miners in AfricaOn the 30th September 2016, The Washington Post published an extremely indepth and informative article on the horrors of the cobalt supply chain in the DRC. We have seen recent breakthroughs in understanding the conflict mineral supply chain, with Amnesty International publishing the first report “This is what we die for” (6 January 2016).

The Amnesty report documented how traders buy cobalt from areas where child labour is rife and sell it to Congo Dongfang Mining (CDM), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Chinese mineral giant, Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt Ltd (Huayou Cobalt).

The Washington Post has now furthered this report in an article which traces the artisinal cobalt supply from the Congo to consumers’ phones and laptops.

The article is the first research that links clearly cobalt mined with child labour to the development of an iPhone. The research is credible using primary information sources and sound investigative journalism practice. The Post gave artisinal miners cameras. This was the first time a typical day in the life of a “creaseur” or “digger” could be documented.

Core Consultants is honored to have been included in the Washington Post’s research process and quoted in the article.

Major end users can no longer claim ignorance with respect to their supply chain. End users should and do know the providence of their raw materials. In 2014/15, Core Consultants completed a conflict supply chain study  on behalf of a multinational technology company in California. The aim was to identify risks to their supply chain and recommend responsible supply partners. To review the case study, click here.  Since this time, Core Consultants has been working on a solution to assist companies in understanding their supply chains and identifying the problematic links. In addition we aim to assist end users to put in place measures to ensure a comprehensive audit trail across every aspect of the supply chain.

Core Consultants has been documenting the developments of the cobalt industry for a number of years. Previously Core Consultants presented on the cobalt market at the Mining Indaba and at the Cobalt Development Institute.

In May 2017, Core Consultants will be presenting on solutions to the supply chain problem. This presentation will pay close attention to end-users can develop an audit trail to trace  conflict minerals from the source to the battery manufacturer. This will empower end-users not continue advancing the horrors that the Washington Post article clearly documents.

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