The Ethics of Cobalt

Cobalt is important, but why should you care?

1. Cobalt has been highlighted as one of the metals useful for EV and battery power storage. Cobalt is not the only metal identified to be functional in such uses, but it is efficient and stable.

2. According to Forbes (2019) cobalt demand is projected to grow at a compound annual rate of 11.6%. Meanwhile, 2/3 of current production is coming from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

3. However, there is a dark side to this story based on unethical mining practices. Researchers from the University of Lubumbashi in the DRC in collaboration with two Belgian universities found an increase in birth defects when comparing children born in and out of families with direct connections to the mines. One of these mines in Katanga is “one of the 10 most polluted areas in the world.” But yes, let’s keep responsible mining out of *our* backyard. [plz note the sarcasm]

4. First Cobalt (based in Toronto, CA) has entered the game in North America. They will refine cobalt for multiple uses, including electric vehicles. Pro: using batteries and electric vehicles is good for lowering emissions. Con: because it is cheaper, sourcing remains in places with few regulations like the DRC.

Takeaway: be careful labeling something as “environmentally friendly”. Sure, your Tesla might decrease your personal daily emissions, but the environmental impact the materials have up the supply chain may be catastrophic. @velocityak will continue to encourage responsible and regulated mining, in places like the US. Maybe you’d like to reconsider that mine in your backyard?

#responsiblemining #digbabydig #miningengineering #mineralsmakelife