Podcaster and comedian Joe Rogan hosted author Siddhartha Kara onto his podcast, where the duo discussed his upcoming book that breaks down the child labor and slavery situation that currently exists in the Congo, thanks largely to cobalt mines. Cobalt is a precious mineral that is used in much our today’s technology.
Kara said, “Going back centuries, never in human history has there been more suffering that generated more profit and was linked to the lives of more people around the world ever, ever, in history than what’s happening in the Congo right now.”
“The cobalt that’s being mined in the Congo is in every single lithium-ion rechargeable battery manufactured in the world today, every smartphone, every tablet, every laptop, and crucially, every electric vehicle,” Kara said. “So, you and I, we can’t function on a day-to-day basis without cobalt and three-fourths of the supply is coming out of the Congo.”
He said it’s mined in “appalling, heart-wrenching, dangerous conditions” and “by and large, the world doesn’t know what’s happening in the Congo” and do not know the full extent of the cruelty. He said that those working in the mines often work for as little as one or two dollars a day.
“This is the bottom of the supply chain of your iPhone, of your Tesla of your Samsung… there’s no clean cobalt, not real. No, no, it’s all marketing” he said, adding that any idea of cobalt being “clean” is just marketing.
“There’s not a single company on planet earth that makes a device that has a rechargeable battery in it that can reliably and justifiably claim that their cobalt isn’t coming from sources like that,” he said.
“Militias and warlords were forcing the local population at gunpoint, machete point, to dig this stuff out. And it was flowing up into the formal supply chain into mostly those first-generation cell phones,” Kara said.
“Cobalt started later. Cobalt really took off about 10-12 years ago, and it’s in another part of the country in the mining provinces in the southeast of the Congo. And cobalt took off because it was started to be used in lithium-ion batteries to maximize their charge and stability,” Kara continued, adding that “Chinese mining companies took control of almost all the big mines and the local population has been displaced and is under duress and they dig in absolutely subhuman gut-wrenching conditions.”