Never Mind the Mines. In Congo, There’s Cobalt Under the House

The Democratic Republic of Congo is by far the world’s biggest supplier of cobalt, the key ingredient in the rechargeable batteries needed to power everything from Apple gadgets to Tesla cars. For many in Lualaba province, where the richest deposits are found, digging for cobalt by hand isn’t a choice: it’s the surest way to earn a living. Their manual entrepreneurial efforts, also called artisanal mining, accounted about 15 percent of Congo’s cobalt output in 2017, according to Darton Commodities Ltd. That’s roughly $1 billion at spot prices and it’s sure to grow as global demand surges.


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