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The Human Cost Of Renewable Energy: Congolese Men, Women And Children

The Copper Belt in the Congo, a 250-mile crescent from Kolwezi to northern Zambia, is the source of 10% of the world’s copper as well as about half of the world's cobalt reserves. Cobalt, deemed “critical” by the European Union and “strategic” by the United States, is essential for all of today’s rechargeable batteries, from smartphone and laptop batteries to e-bikes and electric vehicles. Demand for the resource is expected to grow by almost 500 percent by 2050, and only in the DRC does so much of the valuable mineral exist. To extract cobalt in the DRC, side-by-side with authorized industrial mining operations are hundreds of thousands of “artisanal” miners, the vast majority of which operate outside any authorized mining areas or safety protocols. These men, women and children miners are subjected to harsh conditions and low wages, and it is they who are the subject of Siddharth Kara’s new book, "Cobalt Red" from which the following excerpt comes.
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