By JENNIFER SMITH, CHIEF REPORTER FOR DAILYMAIL.COM
For years, big tech companies like Apple and Tesla have assured the customers of their glossy stores and showrooms that all their goods are ethically sourced and sold.
But a new series of images taken from inside mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where 90 percent of the world’s cobalt is mined and used to make the batteries that power our tech-led lives, raise uncomfortable questions.
Cobalt is the chemical element found in almost every tech gadget that uses a lithium-powered battery on the market today – a smartphone, tablet or laptop requires a few grams of it, while an electric vehicle requires 10kg.
Apple, Microsoft, Google, Tesla and others all insist that they hold cobalt suppliers to the highest of standards, and that they only trade with smelters and refiners who adhere to their codes of conduct.
But the photos and videos that DailyMail.com can share today from some of the largest mines in Africa – where many of these suppliers get their cobalt – tell a different story.
- A sea of workers Shabara, one of the largest cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where hundreds of thousands of people are exposed to toxic chemicals every day while mining for the precious mineral
Barefoot children covered in chemicals, endlessly smashing open rocks for $2-a-day; exhausted new mothers with their babies strapped to them, sifting through nets of rocks in the hopes of finding the precious cobalt.
Those are among the powerful images obtained by Siddharth Kara over the last several years in the Katanga region, that can be shared now ahead of the publication of his new book – Cobalt Red: How the Blood of the Congo Powers Our Lives.