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African children pay the price for “clean green” electric car battery technology

August 6, 2017

By Paul Homewood

Re posted from Tallbloke:


Goldman Sachs, the merchant bank, calls cobalt ‘the new gasoline’ but there are no signs of new wealth in the DRC, where the children haul the rocks brought up from tunnels dug by hand.

Adult miners dig up to 600ft below the surface using basic tools, without protective clothing or modern machinery. Sometimes the children are sent down into the narrow makeshift chambers where there is constant danger of collapse.

Cobalt is such a health hazard that it has a respiratory disease named after it – cobalt lung, a form of pneumonia which causes coughing and leads to permanent incapacity and even death.

Even simply eating vegetables grown in local soil can cause vomiting and diarrhoea, thyroid damage and fatal lung diseases, while birds and fish cannot survive in the area.


Read the full story here.

Index Mundi shows just how much cobalt production is dominated by the Congo.



  1. August 6, 2017 10:01 am

    The silence on this is incredible when you consider how quickly the BBC and others jump on any hint of child labour in any other activity

  2. August 6, 2017 11:14 am

    The UNDP development assistance program has become entangled in the overriding climate agenda of the UN

  3. August 6, 2017 3:54 pm

    This just has to be fake news. I mean green means clean. Michael Gove obviously thinks this is clean and, like all politicians, he will have looked into the details of an all-electric vehicle future with great care and diligence. Politicians are all careful to make sure there are no unintended consequences of their decisions.

  4. dave permalink
    August 6, 2017 4:20 pm

    World reserves of cobalt

    Zaire 50%
    Cuba 26%
    Zimbabwe 10%

    Three luverly places to depend on.

    Cobalt is mainly a by-product. To meet requirements of cobalt for EV madness, the output of the primary metals like copper would have to multiply ten-fold. Or the cost of new production of cobalt would have to be the cost formerly borne by a primary metal. This isn’t going to happen!

    • Dave Ward permalink
      August 7, 2017 6:55 pm

      “To meet requirements of cobalt for EV madness, the output of the primary metals like copper would have to multiply ten-fold”

      Well, copper is the most commonly used material for electric conductors, so given the proposed massive increase in electric cars (and just about everything else, if these nutters get their way), that might not actually be a problem…

  5. August 6, 2017 5:11 pm

    It seems like our Government is hell bent on exporting premature death.

  6. dave permalink
    August 6, 2017 8:07 pm

    It is 4,304 days since a hurricane came ashore in the USA with a strength, when reaching the USA, of Category 3 or more.

    Just saying it – as we head into the Caribbean storm season.

    The inevitable headline, of course, is perpetually set-up in the MSM newspapers, ready for the moment:

    “Biggest Hurricane Ever, caused by Global Warming, smashes Trump voters.”

    • August 6, 2017 10:22 pm

      Dave: Possible. But unlikely. I now live directly on the Atlantic beach in Fort Lauderdale, Fl. Got directly smashed twice in 1 year in 2005. Katrina went west as a cat 1, no problem. Wilma went east as a marginal cat 3, BIG problem outside; took 18 months to restore the ppol deck. Remained in our cat 5 ‘proof’ building for both. Sort of exciting, but we had 7 days supplies in our hurricane ‘go bag’.
      Nothing since despite last year’s Mathew scare. It will eventually happen, but not with invest 99L, the current rave. We have statistics on our side to counter the eventual warmunist wails.

      • dave permalink
        August 7, 2017 6:23 am

        Forty years ago I ate a meal in an unlikely venue – a shopping mall on the outskirts of Ft. Lauderdale – in what turned out to be one of the best French restaurants ever. The owners were a couple from Nice, France. As they explained with a wry smile: “Local politics means we aren’t allowed a liquor licence. The food HAS to be good.”

      • dave permalink
        August 7, 2017 6:53 am

        The 2017-18 tropical-storm season in the Northern Hemisphere* has been average so far:

        Super-Typhoon “Noru” is still thrashing around in the Pacific – adding ACE.
        It is slightly counter-intuitive that the storms that add the most ACE are often the ones which do no damage at all. That is because they stay out at sea. Without a landfall to break the convective cycle they live on for weeks. I think it was ‘Gaston’ that did a similar thing in the Atlantic last year. This is all just chance. One reason that ACE is so variable year to year.

        * 2016-2017 was the quietist ever recorded in the Southern Hemisphere.

  7. August 6, 2017 10:06 pm

    The cobalt story is both much older and more complicated than portrayed here. It is a byproduct metal, primarily from copper (as in Congo) or nickel (as in Canada) production. Only ~1/3 is used in LiIon. Most of the rest is used in high temp (cutting tool, jey engine) or high magnetic (transformer) steel alloys, which can both be recycled.
    There are presently 4 primary LiIon cathode chemistries. LiFePo4 (lithium iron phosphate, Goodenough’s invention, A123 systems) and LiMnO4 (manganese spinel) use no cobalt at all. Lithium Cobalt Oxide is obviously a big user, but has a declining market share for cost and energy density reasons except with Tesla. The up and comer for EV is Li(NCM)O2 –lithium nickel cobalt manganese oxide, aka NCM. That is in the Chevy Bolt and the new Fiskers Emotion. Made by LG Chem under license from inventor 3M. Higher energy and power density than lithium cobalt oxide by ~30%, plus lower cost because both nickel and manganese are cheaper and more plentiful than cobalt. And the new possible Fisker Nanotech LiC (see guest post vehicular decarbonization at Judith Curry’s Climate Etc) uses just carbon (graphene) and lithium titanate. No cobalt. And potentially the long run EV energy storage ‘winner’, per this SME’s judgement.
    Cobalt is not a primary reason to oppose CAGW and renewables. It is a diversion, even tho the Congo situation is still a scandal.

    • dave permalink
      August 7, 2017 6:19 am

      I agree that ‘artisanal mines’ is a diversion since it is not as if industrial demand requires output from this source. That people scrabble in the dirt to make a pittance is more a result of exploding population than anything else. And, as I pointed out with respect to malarial mortality a while back, there are many rapid IMPROVEMENTS in living conditions occurring, even in Africa.

  8. tom0mason permalink
    August 7, 2017 1:16 am

    From a quick look thro’ some interweb pages I find cobalt is used for —

    Lithium cobalt oxide is used as an electrode in lithium batteries.

    Rechargeable NiMH batteries also contain a little cobalt.

    Paints, varnishes and inks can be made with cobalt if a certain color or shade (cobalt blue?) is needed.

    Cobalt is usually added to alloys to create what are known as ‘superalloys’. These alloys have a stable temperature/expansion range so are used widely items like jet engines, gas turbines, etc.
    In order of decreasing tonnage usage, cobalt’s primary applications are in non-ferrous (super)alloys, magnets, high speed tool steels, ultrahigh strength alloy steels, abrasion-resistant cemented carbides for cutting tools and stainless steels.
    Among the cobalt-based high temperature alloys, the oldest and best known (HS-21) contains 62% Co, 3% Ni, 27% Cr (for oxidation resistance) and 5% Mo.
    Other cobalt-based superalloys will typically contain 1-20% Ni, 0-6% Mo, 0-4% Cb, 10-28% Cr, plus varying concentrations of tungsten, titanium, aluminum, iron, vanadium and boron.
    The cobalt-based superalloys are usually cast to near final shape by lost-wax or other precision processes. They are preferred for stator vanes and diaphragms in gas turbines because of their excellent thermal shock- and corrosion resistance.

    Various cobalt alloys are used in prosthetic hip and knee joint replacements. Also some false teeth are made using cobalt to avoid adverse nickel allergies.
    Tungsten alloys that have been considered as replacement for depleted uranium in penetrator ammunitions, such as tungsten-cobalt or tungsten-nickel-cobalt alloys, also possess carcinogenic properties

    Many types of permanent magnets also incorporate alloys of cobalt.

    Several compounds of cobalt are very important in industry as they act as catalysts, speeding up important chemical reactions. Liquid fuels and polymers are two things that are obtained through the use of cobalt catalysts.

    Some porcelain enamels are made using cobalt salts in the mix.

    And a few isotope of cobalt (Cobalt-60 and Cobalt-57) are used in medical procedures.

  9. August 7, 2017 8:39 am

    This is the Mail on Sunday version of the story.

  10. keith permalink
    August 7, 2017 11:53 am

    Well well, aren’t these ‘holia than throu’ ev green car drivers wonderful. Not only, by purchasing one of these ridiculous vehicles, are they throwing the equivalent of 8.5 years of internal combustion engine CO2 use into the atmosphere, they are now contributing to child slave labour in Africa.
    And our stupid Government wants to encourage the use of EV’s, They and EV drivers are nothing short of criminals.

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