In many countries children working under the age of 18 is illegal – but not in all. According to the International Labour Organization about 152 million children are engaged in child labour. This includes documented cases in mining sector supply chains and especially within artisanal and small-scale mining.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, for example, which holds two thirds of the world’s cobalt reserves (a key component in the lithium-ion batteries critical for the green transition) an estimated 100,000 people including 35,000 children are involved in ASM and are responsible for 20% of the country’s annual cobalt exports.
Issues linked to child labour are complex and require the participation of multiple actors including governments, mining companies and their associations, as well as investors and civil society.