Child slaves working for the cobalt in your batteries

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

cobaltSome just might like to refer to them as child laborers but when four, eight and eleven year old children being beaten and whipped if they don't produce enough, spill some of the ore, and such like, then they are not laborers but slaves.

In the photo eight-year-old Dorsen is pictured cowering beneath the raised hand of an overseer who warns him not to spill a rock.

And what are they slaving for? So that you can drive an electric car, have a new smartphone every six months, and so forth. They are working for the western world's green energy crusade.

I have said more than once but will say it again and that is that the electric car, and especially its batteries, is not sustainable and it certainly is not ethical, and that includes the Tesla storage batteries for solar and wind home use.

Also with the demand and the cost of cobalt rising astronomically the price of the batteries is not going to come down making for electric cars as cheap as ICE-powered cars; the opposite rather and at what cost other than just the price.

But it is not only cobalt that child slaves are extracting from the earth. Other elements too, and in addition to that child slaves are also involved in large numbers in the “recycling” of E-waste to extract materials for use in smartphones and other electronic devices. The latter is also a very dirty and unhealthy business. But, hey, it's cheaper to use child slaves in foreign countries than to have the recycling, for instance, done at home under stricter conditions.

An army of children, some just four years old, working in the vast polluted mines of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where toxic red dust burns their eyes, and they run the risk of skin disease and a deadly lung condition. Here, for a wage of just 8p a day, the children are made to check the rocks for the tell-tale chocolate- brown streaks of cobalt – the prized ingredient essential for the batteries that power electric cars.

It is feared that thousands more children could be about to be dragged into this hellish daily existence after the historic pledge made by Britain – and other countries – to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars from 2040 (or even before, as in the case of some other nations) and switch to electric vehicles.

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 labor 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).

While the race to change from ICE-powered vehicles to electric ones may herald a future of clean energy, free from pollution but such ideals mean nothing for the children condemned to a life of hellish misery in the race to achieve his target.

We need to rethink how we drive and so on and also how we use energy and in which form.

© 2018