Cobalt, Child Labor, and Your Phone Battery

Cobalt, one of the most essential ingredient in the batteries that power our smartphones and electric cars, are being mined by children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), who do not realize the economic impact of the mineral they risk their lives for. Cobalt, a key component in the lithium-ion batteries that powers smartphones, computers, and electric vehicles, provides a stability and high energy density that allows batteries to operate safely and for longer periods. As the rise in smartphones and electric vehicles have increased, so has a surge in demand has sent the market price of the mineral from about $10 a pound in 2016 to a peak of about $44 in April 2018.

According to Fortune's report, mining accounts for about 80% of the DRC's earnings, and despite its giant riches of tin, gold, nickel, copper, and cobalt, the average person there earns just $700 a year, less than the cost of a new iPhone.


Want to receive more content like this in your inbox?