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OECD: Mining companies urged to fight corruption, child labour practices in DRC

A report by the organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has urged mining companies of  copper and cobalt in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have been urged to do more to fight corruption and child labour,

Congo is the world’s largest cobalt producer and fifth-largest producer of copper, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. As demand for the two minerals has soared with the growth of the electronic and electric-vehicle industries, so have worries about the conditions under which they are mined. Cobalt is a key component in lithium-ion rechargeable batteries, and Congo has almost half the world’s known reserves.

Child labor and human-rights abuses are common in small-scale mining sites in Congo, where independent, artisanal miners dig by hand, the OECD said in a report published Friday. While companies have been trying to address these concerns, they should also mind reports of corruption among the country’s biggest mining firms, the Paris-based organization said.

Companies should be “proactive about addressing risks, for example by improving working conditions in artisanal mining or taking action to address corruption in their supply chains,” Ben Katz, co-author of the OECD report, said in a statement. Production from Congo’s artisanal mines often gets mixed in with industrial output, he said.

The OECD is an intergovernmental organization made up of mainly wealthy nations that supports world trade. The report is part of the group’s guidance for companies “to respect human rights and avoid contributing to conflict or bribery through their mineral or metal purchasing decisions and practices.”

Cobalt is a key component in lithium ion rechargeable batteries, and DRC has almost half the world’s known reserves, it said.

Several of the DRC’s biggest miners, including Glencore and Eurasian Resources Group are under investigation in the US and UK for allegations of corruption in their DRC operations, said Bloomberg News.

The DRC, meanwhile, has made efforts to repair its standing in the international community following a protracted election delay in which current president Felix Tshisekedi was in January elected to succeed Joseph Kabila.

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