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Major tech companies sued over child labor in cobalt mines

Human rights firm The International Rights Advocates filed a suit against major technology companies for "aiding and abetting" the use of young children to mine cobalt in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The lawsuit alleges Microsoft Corp., Apple Inc., Google LLC parent Alphabet Inc., Dell Technologies Inc. and Tesla Inc. knew that cobalt used in their products could be linked to child labor. The lawsuit also accuses the companies of failing to regulate the cobalt supply chain, which resulted in child cobalt miners working in "exceedingly harsh, hazardous, and toxic conditions."

The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on behalf of injured children and the parents of children killed in cobalt mining accidents. Plaintiffs are seeking damages for forced labor and compensation for "unjust enrichment, negligent supervision and intentional infliction of emotional distress."

Cobalt is a key component of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries used in electronic devices.

Several of the tech companies named in the suit have told various news outlets that they are investigating the matter.