A disturbing deep dive by the Washington Post today traces the pipeline of cobalt from underground mines in Congo to manufacturing centers in Asia, where the mineral is used as an ingredient in the lithium batteries that power mobile devices and laptops.
An estimated 100,000 miners, including children, work in punishing and dangerous conditions to excavate the material, the Post found investigation found, which may end up powering devices and computers made by the world's biggest brands, including Apple and Samsung. Congo is the source of 60% of the world's cobalt. The Post, to its credit, did not shy away from asking Amazon—owned by current Post owner Jeff Bezos—about the source of cobalt that powers its Kindle devices. The company did not respond to direct questions, but said it conducts audits to make sure its manufacturing partners comply with its policies.