We are bad

Estimates from 2010 suggest that as many as 150,000 individuals (roughly 2% of the population of Katanga) were involved in artisanal mining. Government officials have said that hand-dug cobalt accounts for around 20% of the DRC’s total exports of the mineral (in other words, 10% of the total global supply).

Those estimates are 8 years old, when cobalt demand hadn’t increased like crazy. It is likely that they are many more people hand-digging cobalt now. It probably doubled.

The government is surely corrupted to no en so there are no official accounts of how many people are actually slaves for tech and never will. We just know that kids as young as seven are digging up to 12 hours or more a day. So that you can get notifications on your phone that you will promptly ignore.

Because cobalt prices are already extremely high when a large part of its extraction is done at the lowest cost possible –slaves or machines–, thinking that we have enough of that mineral is totally missing the point: cobalt prices will explode. If people were paid decently, it would already be unaffordable for tech companies. This, I hope, will happen. The DRC will otherwise, explode again. Which would compromise cobalt extraction too. So either the price goes way up or no more cobalt because of war. Either way, our batteries overlord are screwed (though they probably have been hoarding for those cases). Ugh.

Seven of the 26 companies did not respond when contacted in 2015. Thirteen denied using cobalt
sourced from the DRC or connected to Huayou Cobalt, without offering any information that would allow these claims to be verified.

And then there’s this entire BS going on where no one, government, holdings, companies are accountable for anything. They all wave some bogus reports and attempted regulations. Hide behind supply chains and policies. Every actor in this mess is closing their eyes. It’s a disaster for the people of Congo.

We are bad.

The report.

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