50 signatures reached
To: The Illinois State Senate
Child Labor in the DRC
Add Cobalt to the list of Conflict Minerals.
Why is this important?
As a student concerned about child labor in the global supply chain, I’m writing this to urge you to introduce a new bill that would make Cobalt a conflict material within the Democratic Republic of Congo. Based on your support for international humanitarian efforts, I am hoping you will be in support of this and the peace it will bring thousands of people.
The Congo supplies over half of the world’s cobalt, which has put pressure on their mines to increase production as global demand has skyrocketed. This has caused them to quickly need more workers, and they have turned to children to fill the gap. There are an estimated 40,000 child laborers working in these mines, accounting for just under half of all cobalt miners. These children work 12 hour days without protection, putting them at risk of asphyxiation or other accidental death, for compensation of only $1-2 per day. Working in these mines not only puts children’s health at risk but also their social growth, as they have no time to interact with other children and have fun. In addition, many kids drop out of school to work full time in the mines and never get a thorough education. This leads to lower paying jobs as adults and ultimately puts them at a disadvantage later in life. Something has to change.
Currently, section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Act includes gold, tin, and tungsten, but cobalt is noticeably absent. The increased regulation on the listed minerals has had a tremendous positive effect on how these minerals are sourced. Transparency requirements along the global supply chain have helped to audit 75% of mines for these minerals. Furthermore, 79% of tin and tungsten miners in the Congo now work at conflict-free mines that are considered “peaceful”, defined as an absence of child labor, reasonable working conditions, and fair compensation. Inspecting these mines for legality and cooperation with child labor laws have helped to reduce the number of children mining for conflict minerals. The problem is that children have a new industry to turn to: cobalt mining. By adding cobalt to the list of conflict materials, mines would need to be checked for child labor, and companies would be forced to find other sources. Children could escape the dangerous mines and have a chance at a childhood and an education. This law has caused enormous improvements in other mineral’s mines, and it would help children mining for cobalt just as much.
I hope you will consider action in Congress that would either introduce new legislature or edit the existing bill to solve this dire problem. The children need our action to free them from their enslavement, and I firmly believe that this legislature is the first step towards them.
Thank you for your time,
The Students of Vernon Hills High School