African children pay the price for “clean green” electric car battery technology

Posted: August 6, 2017 by tallbloke in Energy, fuel poverty, Geology, greenblob, pollution

Goldman Sachs, the merchant bank, calls cobalt ‘the new gasoline’ but there are no signs of new wealth in the DRC, where the children haul the rocks brought up from tunnels dug by hand.

Adult miners dig up to 600ft below the surface using basic tools, without protective clothing or modern machinery. Sometimes the children are sent down into the narrow makeshift chambers where there is constant danger of collapse.

Cobalt is such a health hazard that it has a respiratory disease named after it – cobalt lung, a form of pneumonia which causes coughing and leads to permanent incapacity and even death.

Even simply eating vegetables grown in local soil can cause vomiting and diarrhoea, thyroid damage and fatal lung diseases, while birds and fish cannot survive in the area.

No one knows quite how many children have died mining cobalt in the Katanga region in the south-east of the country. The UN estimates 80 a year, but many more deaths go unregistered, with the bodies buried in the rubble of collapsed tunnels. Others survive but with chronic diseases which destroy their young lives. Girls as young as ten in the mines are subjected to sexual attacks and many become pregnant.

Dorsen, just eight, is one of 40,000 children working daily in the mines of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The terrible price they will pay for our clean air is ruined health and a likely early death.

Almost every big motor manufacturer striving to produce millions of electric vehicles buys its cobalt from the impoverished central African state. It is the world’s biggest producer, with 60 per cent of the planet’s reserves.

The cobalt is mined by unregulated labour and transported to Asia where battery manufacturers use it to make their products lighter, longer-lasting and rechargeable.

The planned switch to clean energy vehicles has led to an extraordinary surge in demand. While a smartphone battery uses no more than 10 grams of refined cobalt, an electric car needs 15kg (33lb).

Residents near mines in southern DRC had urinary concentrates of cobalt 43 higher than normal. Lead levels were five times higher, cadmium and uranium four times higher.

The worldwide rush to bring millions of electric vehicles on to our roads has handed a big advantage to those giant car-makers which saw this bonanza coming and invested in developing battery-powered vehicles, among them General Motors, Renault-Nissan, Tesla, BMW and Fiat-Chrysler.

Full story

  1. vuurklip says:

    Yes, but the evil African dictators carry as much blame!

  2. Richard111 says:

    Can’t make a valid rational comment so spread the viewing.

  3. craigm350 says:

    Reblogged this on WeatherAction News and commented:
    Clean energy…only because greenies have a remarkable habit of washing their hands from the consequences of their decisions.

  4. oldbrew says:

    More of the same from Sky News [< 4 mins.]

  5. tallbloke says:

    I’m sure ‘renewableguy’ will be a long soon to say something soothing to these congolese kids…

  6. Bitter&Twisted says:

    Green policies cost lives.
    As I keep saying “green” = “scam”.

  7. […] Source: African children pay the price for “clean green” electric car battery technology […]

  8. cognog2 says:

    Forwarded this to Caroline Lucas.

  9. tallbloke says:

    Good move, thanks.

  10. Roger Cole says:

    The commentator keeps making vague accusations of “colonial exploitation” and “multinational corporations” but there is not a mention of who actually runs these mines and makes its profit directly from the suffering of these people and that entity is the Congolese Army, not Chinese or Indian traders or multinational anything. Feel free, smug commentator, to go into the Congo and try telling the violent men with guns of your liberal opinions. It is obvious that if a real multinational company were to run these outfits, they would be mechanised, efficient and the few jobs available would be relatively safe and well paid.

  11. p.g.sharrow says:

    Just powerful warlords exploiting their slaves.
    Blacks doing what they do best, enslavement.
    Liberal Progressive Socialists doing what they do best, Justification.
    Some must suffer and die so we can create our NEW, Better, society…pg

  12. cognog2 says:

    I think there is niaivity in Roger Coles’ comments here. If he were to measure his views against the ivory, wildlife, diamond and drug industries he might find them wanting. It is the demand for these products that drive the trade and controlling the ethics rarely succeeds.
    The problem with Cobalt is that a huge demand is being unnecessarily generated and the unintended consequences will inevitably result.

  13. oldbrew says:

    Mail on Sunday version…

    Quote: Chinese middle-men working for the Congo Dongfang Mining Company have the stranglehold in DRC, buying the raw cobalt brought to them in sacks carried on bicycles and dilapidated old cars daily from the Katanga mines. They sit in shacks on a dusty road near the Zambian border, offering measly sums scrawled on blackboards outside – £40 for a ton of cobalt-rich rocks – that will be sent by cargo ship to minerals giant Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt in China and sold on to a complex supply chain feeding giant multinationals.

    Challenged by the Washington Post about the appalling conditions in the mines, Huayou Cobalt said ‘it would be irresponsible’ to stop using child labour, claiming: ‘It could aggravate poverty in the cobalt mining regions and worsen the livelihood of local miners.’

  14. This is CRAP! I’m not against children helping in out with productive and healthful activities but this just seems mercenary and dangerous. Knock it off.

  15. mohandeer says:

    I think it worth mentioning child exploitation. Certain people with a given agenda are quite willing to mention child exploitation in respect to their agenda, but no mention is made of the children suffering elsewhere all over the world which sadly for them, are not worth a mention, because they do not enhance support for the agenda being driven. In other words, such children cannot be used to denounce the man made global warming half of the argument who condemn the continued mining and fracking activities of the powerful oil and coal corporates.
    Children being exploited anywhere in the world should be a topic of huge concern, but alas, among certain “cliques”, they only qualify for mention because they serve a particular agenda and that is, in and of itself, child exploitation.
    I have reblogged this blog because I abhor the misuse of children in any form and am disgusted with the powerful wealth creators willing to dismiss these child victims, wherever they occur.
    Can the authour of this particular article also make that claim? Or is the unfortunate and cruel plight of these particular child victims simply a means of platforming their own interests, or those of oil and coal corporations in their continued assault on the dwindling reserves and resources they are hell bent on pillaging?
    For your edification:
    Global number of children in child labour has declined by one third since 2000, from 246 million to 168 million children. More than half of them, 85 million, are in hazardous work (down from 171 million in 2000).
    Asia and the Pacific still has the largest numbers (almost 78 million or 9.3% of child population), but Sub-Saharan Africa continues to be the region with the highest incidence of child labour (59 million, over 21%).
    There are 13 million (8.8%) of children in child labour in Latin America and the Caribbean and in the Middle East and North Africa there are 9.2 million (8.4%).
    Agriculture remains by far the most important sector where child labourers can be found (98 million, or 59%), but the problems are not negligible in services (54 million) and industry (12 million) – mostly in the informal economy.
    Child labour among girls fell by 40% since 2000, compared to 25% for boys.

  16. cognog2 says:

    I concur with the ethos of your comments mohandeer; but the solution is absent.
    Capitalism has no ethics. It is amoral and merely states that supply reacts to demand until equilibrium is achieved. The means to achieve this balance is where ethics become involved. Outside the remit of Capitalism.

    The policies to create Electric Transport generate huge demand. Nowhere do I see policies to control the ethics of the supply chain. To be fair this is an impossible task, which politicians avoid like the plague.
    As I see it the only way to ameliorate the problem (not solve) is to reduce the demand and allow the evolution of Electrc Transport to take place in accordance with community wishes as the technology developes and as the ethical? supply chain simlarly responds. With Governments reacting in the way they should, namely ensuring the ethical aspects, uncluttered by activist lobby with alternative agendas. ( Ie.: Driven bottom up, not top down)

    Quite frankly, if the batteries in your car are the result of an unethical supply; then you should have that on your conscience. I fear I cry in the wind on that; but will not cease crying.

  17. oldbrew says:

    cognog – public awareness of the problem is probably quite low.

  18. p.g.sharrow says:

    Exploiting children is as old as the human race. Whether your own or those of others. Part of growing up is to learn to be useful to others. That said; exploiting them to do hazardous work without good training as to the dangers is unethical.
    Today in the U.S we have the reverse problem, it is illegal to employ children until they have wasted a fourth of their lives,which results in adults that are worthless and entitled…pg

  19. mohandeer says:

    @ cognog2
    Never stop trying to have your voice heard where ethics are being compromised and TPTB use any platform to launch a new assault against the poor or disenfranchised. The wealthy power elites, from billionaires and governments alike, control the masses and until people like Soros and the Clintons, Blairs and Bushes etc. are held to account, vulnerable children around the world will be used to satisfy the greed of the already wealthy nation states in their pursuit of resource acquisition.
    As a voice in the wilderness, there is no wrong in exposing the wrongs, whenever and wherever they occur.