Whether in cars, laptops or smartphones, cobalt is in nearly all batteries. The biggest supplier is the Democratic Republic of Congo, where human rights are often violated in the mines.
Young men, armed with only torchlight and tools climb down in a deep, dark hole, without helmet or security gear. The path becomes even smaller as they go further down in the unsecured tunnel. To remove the cobalt, the young miners use chisels and hand hooks and then place the gem rocks into bags, which are then pulled up by another miner above ground.
The rights group Amnesty International witnessed this scene during a research trip in Kasulu, the former Katanga province in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). These mine workers are known in the DRC as Creuseurs, loosely translated as the diggers.
The mining work is divided among everyone. Men dig for the rocks in the tunnel, women wash the rocks in the river, and children are tasked with separating the cobalt from the rock with their bare hands. Continue Reading →