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Disappointing ´Rush To Judgment´ On China’s Role In The Congo

China’s role has been to bring new, large-scale investment on a new basis: combined financing for industrial mining and public infrastructure – roads, railroads, dams, health and education facilities. The result was “After decades of almost non-existent industrial production, the country became and remains the world’s leading producer of cobalt and, by 2023, became the world’s third largest producer of copper.” The new deal “puts an end to the monopoly of certain Western countries and their large companies whose history shows that this exclusivity has not brought development to the country.” The arrangement has dramatically reduced the role of artisanal mining.

Cobalt Red, How The Blood Of The Congo Powers Our Lives

“Unspeakable riches have brought the people of the Congo little other than unspeakable pain.” So writes Siddharth Kara in Cobalt Red, How the Blood of the Congo Powers Our Lives . It’s one of the many poetic phrases that make this book easy on the ear but hard on the heart and mind. There’s pleasure in turning the pages of such finely crafted prose, pain in knowing that, if you have half a heart, you’ll never be able to see your smartphone, laptop, tablet, solar power system, or electric car quite the same way again, that you’ll see blood all over the supply chain that put them in your hand, on your roof, or in your driveway.

Virtual Slave Labor In Congo’s Cobalt Mines

Maurice, you and I have talked many times for Black Agenda Report about the wartorn northeastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), North and South Kivu and Ituri. We’ve talked about the Rwandan and Ugandan military aggressors, but in the southeastern provinces—which were once a single province called Katanga—there’s a different, equally horrific kind of violence going on in the vast cobalt mines that we haven’t talked about here. That’s the violence against hundreds of thousands of artisanal miners living in the most horrific conditions, the equivalent of slavery except that they can't be bought and sold.

The Cobalt Gold Rush And The East Palestine Disaster

Holidays in my childhood were spent at my grandparents’ farm in Plain Grove, Pennsylvania, 35 miles from East Palestine, Ohio. My grandfather’s grandfather fought at Gettysburg and homesteaded the 160-acre farm after the Civil War. My grandmother sold it in the 1960s for $13,000, lacking a male heir to do the work; but my relatives still live in the area. I have therefore taken a keen interest in the toxic chemical disaster that resulted when a Norfolk Southern freight train derailed  in East Palestine on Feb. 3, although it is not my usual line of research. The official narrative doesn’t seem to add up. Something else must have been going on, but what?

Tech Giants Look Other Way On Rights Abuses From Congo Cobalt Mining

By KiMi Robinson for Truthdig. The Democratic Republic of Congo is paying the price for being the world’s largest producer of raw cobalt, a vital ingredient in lithium-ion batteries for electric cars, smartphones, laptops and other rechargeable devices. As Congolese search for the valuable mineral—cobalt is the most expensive part of lithium-ion batteries—they are suffering a surge in child labor, poverty, pollution and rare birth defects. An investigation by The Washington Post unravels the complicated cobalt supply chain from mines in Congo to the world’s largest cobalt producers in China to the products that dominate Americans’ everyday lives. Reporter Todd Frankel found that companies such as Samsung, BMW and Apple buy batteries containing cobalt mined in Congo but declare that their products are free from materials related to human rights abuse.
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