Some EVs Protect the Environment While Harming Child Miners
Social conscience telling you to buy an electric car? If so you might want to consider the following. Amnesty International (AI) reports that a key component in rechargeable batteries, cobalt is being mined by children. Car builders seem to be turning a blind or at least visually impaired eye towards it.
Cobalt is currently selling at $362.00 a pound. There are International standards to guard against companies doing business with mines that use child labor. For these standards to work companies have to research the mining companies they or their battery supplier do business with.
Amnesty International credited Daimler, and BMW with being the most diligent in adhering to the aforementioned international standards. Tesla’s name also came up. The company stated that their batteries contain very little cobalt. Still, Tesla vowed to pay more attention to their supply chain.
Renault was rated as the worst offender. When confronted with the report Renault responded by not responding.
Greater demand for EVs means greater demand for cobalt. That in turn, breeds abuse and corruption especially in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). At the center of the controversy are small independent mines that employ children as young as seven.
Independent mines account for 25% of the 269,254 tons of cobalt mined in the DRC last year. Not surprisingly these independent mining operations have no regard for safety standards. In a single year, dozens of miners were killed in cave-ins. A Chinese company Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt has benefitted most from these abuses.