Tech Industry Leaders Sued Following Deaths in Cobalt Sources

Tech Industry Leaders Sued Following Deaths in Cobalt Sources

A lawsuit was filed on December 15, 2019, alleging a number of leading technology firms knowingly benefited from cobalt mined using child labor in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). A key component of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries found in cell phones, laptops and smartphones, approximately two-thirds of the global cobalt supply is mined in the DRC.

Efforts to fight human trafficking and slavery have evolved in recent years, leading to a change in how companies source their raw materials. This lawsuit is one of over 300 filed under the U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act in recent years and is not the first to affect Fortune 500 companies. The lawsuit is unique, however, in that it is the first of its kind being pursued on behalf of victims’ families, holding manufacturers accountable for the actions of their suppliers. 

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Lawsuits such as this demonstrate the shift in market expectations and the growing awareness of mining conditions that are driving companies to expand their responsible mineral programs to include cobalt and other voluntarily reported materials.

With manufacturers being held responsible for, “unjust enrichment, negligent supervision, and intentional infliction of emotional distress” in their supply chains, it is becoming increasingly important for manufacturers to hold the business practices of their suppliers to a higher standard. The role a company’s reputation plays in determining customer contracts and broader investments is too substantial to ignore and is leading to a broader approach to responsible minerals sourcing. 

The Assent Compliance Platform enables companies to efficiently collect, manage and analyze supply chain data from a single location. By automating supply chain data management, Assent drives transparency into material source of origin and provides insights into inherent supply chain risks. To learn more about how Assent can help you minimize the risks associated with raw material sourcing, contact us at