Cobolt Mining Looks Super Green!

So, we’re replacing strip mining for coal and spills here and there with fossil fuels for this?

Bleak photos show the reality of the cobalt mining industry responsible for the batteries in your phone, computer, and car

Cobalt is the new blood diamond.

It’s highly valuable and dangerous to extract. The Democratic Republic of Congo is responsible for about 70% of the world’s supply of Cobalt.

As the world transitions to renewable energies to fight climate change, the demand — and the price — for cobalt, a crucial ingredient used to make lithium batteries, has skyrocketed.

But even as the cost increases, the working conditions of the people mining it can be brutal, and the pay is almost nothing — The Guardian found in an investigation that workers were getting paid about 35 cents an hour.

Here’s the reality of where cobalt comes from and how it is mined.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, deep craters are dug into the earth to mine cobalt, a natural resource required to make lithium batteries.

In all fairness, cobalt is used in many other types of products, like batteries for smarphones, tablets, computers, and more, along with wear-resistant and high-strength alloys, such as for airplanes, plus in glass, ceramics, inks, paints and varnishes to give it that blue color

The demand for cobalt keeps growing, as does its price. In mid 2020, it was worth $29,000 per metric ton. By March 2022, it was up to $82,000 per ton. Experts agree the demand is only going to increase.

And that demand is skyrocketing, due to demand for EVs and other green projects, mostly along the lines of power storage. It has been called “critical” for the green energy transition. What does it look like?

There are a lot more photos of this (and I know I’ve done at least one post on this) at the article

Now, as much of the world attempts to fight climate change by transitioning to renewable energy, the demand for cobalt has never been higher.

Although the intention is good, it comes at a cost for those living in the DRC.

What’s that saying about good intentions?

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15 Responses to “Cobolt Mining Looks Super Green!”

  1. Elwood P. Dowd says:

    All energy industries have social and environmental costs.

    Cobalt mining can and should be regulated to protect workers. Since some 70% of cobalt currently comes from a single nation, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the industry will be easier to regulate.

    • Dana says:

      Perhaps the distinguished Mr Dowd doesn’t realize that the DRC has been wracked by civil wars and coup d’etats since 1996. A new President was elected in 2018, though many observers held that the election was obviously tainted.

      The economy of DRC relies heavily on mining. However, the smaller-scale economic activity from artisanal mining occurs in the informal sector and is not reflected in GDP data. A third of the DRC’s diamonds are believed to be smuggled out of the country, making it difficult to quantify diamond production levels. In 2002, tin was discovered in the east of the country but to date has only been mined on a small scale. Smuggling of conflict minerals such as coltan and cassiterite, ores of tantalum and tin, respectively, helped to fuel the war in the eastern Congo.

      Katanga Mining Limited, a Swiss-owned company, owns the Luilu Metallurgical Plant, which has a capacity of 175,000 tonnes of copper and 8,000 tonnes of cobalt per year, making it the largest cobalt refinery in the world. After a major rehabilitation program, the company resumed copper production operations in December 2007 and cobalt production in May 2008.

      In April 2013, anti-corruption NGOs revealed that Congolese tax authorities had failed to account for $88 million from the mining sector, despite booming production and positive industrial performance. The missing funds date from 2010 and tax bodies should have paid them into the central bank. Later in 2013, the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative suspended the country’s candidacy for membership due to insufficient reporting, monitoring and independent audits, but in July 2013 the country improved its accounting and transparency practices to the point where the EITI gave the country full membership.

      Unless the United States is going to invade, conquer and administer the Congo, there will be a corrupt government running the place, and one which will never do anything to lower profits from mining.

      • Elwood P. Dowd says:

        Belgium invaded and colonized the Congo from 1885 to 1960, exploiting the territory for resources and labor. Congo gained independence from Belgium in 1960.

        In May 1960, the Mouvement National Congolais led by Patrice Lumumba, won the parliamentary elections. Lumumba became the first Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Lumumba lasted but a year, being deposed by a Belgian/US led coup, ostensibly for approaching the Soviets for assistance after Belgium and the US balked. President Eisenhower had authorized the CIA assassination of Lumumba in 1960 but it never came to pass. The UK also wanted Lumumba gone fearing he would interfere with British mining interests. Lumumba was executed in 1961 by the parties allied with the US and Belgium.

        The reasonable Mr Dana is correct. The Congo, Zaire, DRC etc has been roiled in discord since. Yet, they mine 70% of the world’s cobalt.

        This was reminiscent of the 1953 Iranian coup, deposing Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh by the US and UK, outraged by Mosaddegh’s audit of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (now BP). Eisenhower and Churchill had him removed. Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the shah of Iran, was installed.

        • Dana says:

          The Sage from St Louis has made the case!

          The reasonable Mr Dana is correct. The Congo, Zaire, DRC etc has been roiled in discord since. Yet, they mine 70% of the world’s cobalt.

          This was reminiscent of the 1953 Iranian coup, deposing Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh by the US and UK, outraged by Mosaddegh’s audit of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (now BP). Eisenhower and Churchill had him removed. Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the shah of Iran, was installed.

          Clearly, allowing these coloured nations to become independent, separated from the wisdom, culture, and rule of their white European colonioal masters was a mistake!

          • Elwood P. Dowd says:

            They prefer to be called ‘nations of colour’!!

            The humorist Mr Dana does make a good point that the de-pigmented (PLC*) colonialists ran tight ships. Guns, Germs and Steel!! And wheat. And domesticated animals.

            But like a boiling pot, civilization at gunpoint is always ready to boil over.

            Anyway, given enough guards with clubs and guns, even prisons can be quite peaceful, even productive.

            White European nations ‘civilized’ the ‘lands of colour’ (brown, black, yellow, red) at the barrel of their guns, not out of virtuousness but out of rapaciousness – gold, silver, oil, labour, to spread Christianity, land, sugar, spices and silk. While the ‘uncoloured’ nations of Europe allowed many freedoms in their own peoples (except for the excesses of their rulers and The Church) they were not inspired to spread democratic freedoms worldwide.

            According to the reasonable Mr Dana, the uncoloured can handle freedom, but the coloured cannot.

            Here in the US we uncoloured invaders herded the indigenous peoples (those that survived our Guns and Germs) into reservations, and didn’t allow ‘our coloured folks’ equal rights until only most recent 60 years or so!

            BTW, the HBO series ‘1923’ paints the Catholic Church’s ‘civilization’ of indigenous children in an unfavourable light. More CRT!!! President DeSantis will stop that CRT propaganda over our airwaves, cables and interweb!


            *PWC = People Lacking Colour

  2. Dana says:

    So, who cares if them furriners work in slave labor conditions? The American people don’t, as demonstrated by their preference for Chinese-manufactured goods, even though we know that the working class in the Workers’ Paradise aren’t particularly well-treated, and some Chinese manufacturers use ethnic minorities as slave labor.

    Nor does President Biden care, in that he canceled the Keystone XL Pipeline, which means that crude oil will be transported in a less safe manner, and refined in places with fewer industrial safety regulations in other countries.

  3. st says:

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  4. Facts Matter says:

    IEA estimates it will require a 4000-7000 percent INCREASE in mineral extraction…IE STRIP MINING THE WORLD INTO OBLIVION to reach 100 percent GREEN.

    GOOD LUCK MY FELLOW AMERICANS we have left the future of the world in the hands of basement-dwelling snowflakes who neither date nor want to have babies.

    Looking at the above picture. Can you blame them?

  5. H says:

    Facts (don’t) Matter
    The estimated total amount of mining needed for all green energy is estimated at 200 million tons per year
    Current coal mining is about 6 billion tons per year.
    Until the child coal miner’s of the DNC have some other way to pay for their food, they will continue to do what is necessary for their survival.
    Dana is correct the many people posting here about the lack of humanity shown to these laborers do so only because of partisan views towards “green” energy. It isn’t like they are really calling for more US aid that would allow those kids a decent life
    Actually I would suspect that wage of 35 cents per hour is overstated.

    • Jl says:

      Johnny-as far as mining for “net zero” is concerned, let’s look at just two of the minerals.
      Lithium-known reserves 95,000,000 tons. Estimated amount needed-944,150,000 tons
      Cobalt-known reserves 7,600,000 tons. Estimated amount needed-218,400,000 tons. The other minerals needed have the same large discrepancies. Obviously “known” doesn’t necessarily mean the total amount available, but that doesn’t look promising for the electric crowd.
      (Dr. Simon Michaux, Geological Survey Finland, August 2022)

  6. H says:

    The Keystone XL is designed to export North American crude oil for export to the world market. Right now that Canadian ( bitumen distillate) can only be sold cheaply to American refiners in the Midwest. Keystone XL will not benefit American consumers. It will be efit international oil corporations. Is that desirable? Why would we want North American oil exported ?

    • Dana says:

      The Keystone XL Pipeline was designed to export Canadian crude oil and tar sands to refineries in the United States, and that meant jobs, not only for the pipeline construction companies, and their American workers, but for US refineries, and their American workers.

      The Canuck resources are still being extracted, but now they’re being transported west to Vancouver, for export, primarily to China. The fossil fuels are still being produced and burned, but the jobs for American companies and American workers are gone.

      Crude oil and refined fuels get shipped all over the world; we are exporting some of what we produce, and importing some of what we use, and it’s been that way for decades. But if the oil traverses the US, regardless of where it was produced, and regardless of its final destination, it means jobs for American workers.

  7. Jl says:

    Don’t confuse Johnny with facts…..

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