Child miners aged four living a hell on Earth so YOU can drive an electric car: Awful human cost in squalid Congo cobalt mine that Michael Gove didn’t consider in his ‘clean’ energy crusade

From The Daily Mail

  • Sky News investigated the Katanga mines and found Dorsen, 8,
    and Monica, 4
  • The pair were working in the vast mines of the Democratic Republic
    of Congo
  • They are two of the 40,000 children working daily in the mines,
    checking rocks for cobalt

By Barbara Jones for The Mail on Sunday

Published: 17:01 EDT, 5 August 2017 | Updated: 08:37 EDT, 6 August 2017

Picking through a mountain of huge rocks with his tiny bare hands, the exhausted little boy makes a pitiful sight.

His name is Dorsen and he is one of an army of children, some just four years old, working in the vast polluted mines of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where toxic red dust burns their eyes, and they run the risk of skin disease and a deadly lung condition. Here, for a wage of just 8p a day, the children are made to check the rocks for the tell-tale chocolate-brown streaks of cobalt – the prized ingredient essential for the batteries that power electric cars.

And it’s feared that thousands more children could be about to be dragged into this hellish daily existence – after the historic pledge made by Britain to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars from 2040 and switch to electric vehicles.

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Eight-year-old Dorsen is pictured cowering beneath the raised hand of an overseer who warns him not to spill a rock

It heralds a future of clean energy, free from pollution but – though there can be no doubting the good intentions behind Environment Secretary Michael Gove’s announcement last month – such ideals mean nothing for the children condemned to a life of hellish misery in the race to achieve his target.

Dorsen, just eight, is one of 40,000 children working daily in the mines of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The terrible price they will pay for our clean air is ruined health and a likely early death.

Almost every big motor manufacturer striving to produce millions of electric vehicles buys its cobalt from the impoverished central African state. It is the world’s biggest producer, with 60 per cent of the planet’s reserves.

The cobalt is mined by unregulated labour and transported to Asia where battery manufacturers use it to make their products lighter, longer-lasting and rechargeable.

The planned switch to clean energy vehicles has led to an extraordinary surge in demand. While a smartphone battery uses no more than 10 grams of refined cobalt, an electric car needs 15kg (33lb).

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He then staggers beneath the weight of a heavy sack that he must carry to unload 60ft away in pouring rain

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.

No one knows quite how many children have died mining cobalt in the Katanga region in the south-east of the country. The UN estimates 80 a year, but many more deaths go unregistered, with the bodies buried in the rubble of collapsed tunnels. Others survive but with chronic diseases which destroy their young lives. Girls as young as ten in the mines are subjected to sexual attacks and many become pregnant.

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Dorsen and 11-year-old Richard are pictured. With his mother dead, Dorsen lives with his father in the bush and the two have to work daily in the cobalt mine to earn money for food.

When Sky News investigated the Katanga mines it found Dorsen, working near a little girl called Monica, who was four, on a day of relentless rainfall.

Dorsen was hauling heavy sacks of rocks from the mine surface to a growing stack 60ft away. A full sack was lifted on to Dorsen’s head and he staggered across to the stack. A brutish overseer stood over him, shouting and raising his hand to threaten a beating if he spilt any.

With his mother dead, Dorsen lives with his father in the bush and the two have to work daily in the cobalt mine to earn money for food.

Dorsen’s friend Richard, 11, said that at the end of a working day ‘everything hurts’.

In a country devastated by civil wars in which millions have died, there is no other way for families to survive. Britain’s Department for International Development (DFID) is donating £10.5million between June 2007 and June 2018 towards strengthening revenue transparency and encouraging responsible activity in large and small scale artisanal mining, ‘to benefit the poor of DRC’.

There is little to show for these efforts so far. There is a DRC law forbidding the enslavement of under-age children, but nobody enforces it.

The UN’s International Labour Organisation has described cobalt mining in DRC as ‘one of the worst forms of child labour’ due to the health risks.

Soil samples taken from the mining area by doctors at the University of Lubumbashi, the nearest city, show the region to be among the ten most polluted in the world. Residents near mines in southern DRC had urinary concentrates of cobalt 43 higher than normal. Lead levels were five times higher, cadmium and uranium four times higher.

The worldwide rush to bring millions of electric vehicles on to our roads has handed a big advantage to those giant car-makers which saw this bonanza coming and invested in developing battery-powered vehicles, among them General Motors, Renault-Nissan, Tesla, BMW and Fiat-Chrysler.

Read the full story here:

HT/Tom Anderson

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263 thoughts on “Child miners aged four living a hell on Earth so YOU can drive an electric car: Awful human cost in squalid Congo cobalt mine that Michael Gove didn’t consider in his ‘clean’ energy crusade

  1. But this is dealing with real effects on real people, and the greens do not really care their virtue signalling is at the cost of using slave labor.

    • As distasteful as this story is, one must realize that this work keeps these people alive, although only just. These people are obviously using the best opportunities available. Lets not imagine what would happen to them if this option was removed from them. It is not the demand for cobalt that is to blame, horrifying it might be, but the results of a ruined and impoverished economy which has somehow caused this. “In a country devastated by civil wars in which millions have died, there is no other way for families to survive.”
      One should read the way that the Belgians deliberately exploited the economy when they took over which has left the Congo in this miserable condition till this day. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kvpb_x2AsY8

      • It heralds a future of clean energy, free from pollution but – though there can be no doubting the good intentions behind Environment Secretary Michael Gove’s announcement last month

        Yes. Back-stabbing Gove is well known for his “good intentions” !

        Once again the myth of electric cars being “pollution free”. Batteries store energy they are not a source of energy. The source and production of the energy used to charge a battery with not be any greener or cleaner that because you put it in a battery.

      • roger

        Britain, and no doubt other wealthy countries, give many millions of aid to the congo. if it were better targeted there would be no need for this abject poverty. trouble is the money just seems to ‘disappear’ into the pockets of the already well off.

        tonyb

      • Yes, it is better to live as an abused slave than to die. Thus, slavery is justified. So say you.

      • Just another subsidy to those industries who are designated to solve the “CO2 problem”. The only difference is that this subsidy is being paid in human lives. Do the greenies care? H**l no! They are saving the world and some people will just have to pay the price!

      • I put this in the same category as the liberals’ excuse for accepting illegal immigrants: “they do work that US citizens won’t do.” They leave out the phrases “at those wages” and “in comparison to the government incentives for not working”. If I have to pay more for vegetables or a re-roofing to meet fundamental safety conditions and competitive wages, so be it.

        If Elon can invent electric cars, vacuum tunnel trains and batteries for whole sections of a country, he can develop a safe way of extracting his minerals (and pay local labor to monitor the process). If that pushes EVs past affordability, then so be it.
        There are a lot of things in this world that would be “nice to have”, but price (sometimes due to manufacturing safety) puts them out of reach.

        And on the left’s concern for “health and safety” – what’s worse; fracking or mining cobalt?

      • The same sad logical fallacy used ad infinitum to justify slavery.

        Maybe some solar panels will improve their lives. /s

      • Bad as the Belgians were the truth is things are now far far worse as in virtually every single African state. It would appear that Africans are not mature enough to take responsibility for their own countries when looked at objectively rather than politically correctly.

      • markw: I am not making that call. Those who are saying that 4 and 8 year olds working because there’s nothing better are saying that.

      • Sheri, how do you know there are better alternatives?
        You are the one who is declaring that being unemployed and letting your family starve to death is the preferred option.

      • RW, a grand total of nobody is justifying slavery.
        Recognizing that sometimes there are no good options is reality.

      • rogerthesurf

        I get what you’re saying in your comment. Undoubtedly common sense.

        What I don’t agree with is that whilst the west recognises these problems exist, and I’m talking here about child labour, no health issues or anything else, the west arbitrarily announces increased demand.

        And I read an intelligent comment from someone further down this thread who analysed the numbers and concluded that only 15% of the worlds cobalt comes from the Congo. Fair enough, a smaller problem than the Daily Mail (sensationalist rag) would have us believe. But with what appears scant regard for anything other than picking up green votes, the UK Conservative party announces they will escalate numerous problems by banning ICE vehicles in 2040.

        Great, I’m all for that (well, no not really, I don’t agree with socialist government edicts, especially from the Conservative party) providing they can demonstrate how they can build 10 new power stations, or several thousand windmills before then without causing a toxic financial shock to the UK economy over the next 23 years. They have taken 20 years+ so far to approve a new nuclear power station at Hinckley, that does not bode well.

        Meanwhile, between the UK and France, with the same policy, the 15% of cobalt is set to rise in terms of human suffering proportional to the amount of cobalt required. And as loath as I am for any country to interfere in another’s domestic policy, with all the cash sloshing around in the climate change obsessed west, it seems obscene that the likes of Al Gore and Elon Musk are getting obscenely wealthy whilst children are used as virtual slave labour.

        And I’m the first to maintain that it’s the responsibility of each individual country to deal with its own financial, political, ethical and moral problems themselves, and as far as adults are concerned, I maintain that position. But we stopped sending kids to work over 100 years ago because it was inhuman.

        Personally, I would stop all foreign aid, watch these countries implode, then start dealing with them when they have recovered a semblance of order. But of course we can’t, because we’re addicted to their cobalt, or whatever the particular flavour of mineral is popular of the moment.

        Nor can there be any political concencus between the west, Russia and China that none would renege on the agreement. Someone, likely all, would be in there cutting covert deals to gain the upper hand.

        The whole issue is a hornets nest, but no reason not to condemn the use of child labour.

      • Hot Scot

        Problem is when these countries implode, all the kings horses and all the kings men frequently can’t put them back together again (ref: Iraq, Lybia, Syria)

      • Roger,
        I don’t agree that “this work keeps these people alive” theory.
        Consider what their life was like before “this work” was available.
        I’ve been to Africa (off and on for several decades) and have seen how the people live. In remote areas, they may appear to live in squalor, but they are also happy with the life they have been given.
        That is when they live without outside interference. As a result, they don’t know that they need “stuff”, so they don’t want “stuff”. also if their lifestyle hasn’t been interfered with, they can get along pretty much OK, as long as they’re not too greedy. The smart ones understand how to live like that. In the cities it’s another matter. Throw in a corrupt political system, which plays on tribal discrimination and you have a hell hole in the making.

      • Needless to say – If they are working at this crap hellhole for a starvation wage as described by the article and are not slaves, they are using their best possible option. I hate to think what option 2 would be. Maybe instead of being negative about this situation, we should try to devise some BETTER option for them instead of advocating that their meager existence be cut off.

      • Roger, you are so right.

        Sheri, you miss the point.
        “…there is no other way for families to survive.” This bad situation is NOT slavery. You may think you have the high ground, just as many Alarmists with similar gripes against fossil fuels (‘But, think of the children), but in reality, you would remove a bad best choice just because you don’t like their best choice. That’s despicable.

    • I read a novel that focussed on the awful mining of cobalt in Africa. It was a real eye-opener. It’s aptly named ‘The Devil’s Kingdom’.

    • They’ve been using kids as slaves for years there. Mining coltan so that we can have mobile phones! One of the reasons I don’t use one. It’s disgusting!

    • The Greens, like their Liberal brethren, seldom think through the consequences of their agendas.

  2. The fun continues …

    More Sustainable Solar Cells From Cobalt
    August 5th, 2013 by James Ayre

    More environmentally friendly and cheaper solar cells could be manufactured using cobalt, new research as found. Researchers from the University of Basel have developed a copper-based, dye-sensitized solar cell where the expensive (and relatively rare) element iodine has been replaced by the much more common element cobalt. The new Cu-Co solar cell — as it’s been dubbed — shows no loss of performance as compared to more conventional iodine-containing, dye-sensitized solar cells.

    Source

    w.

    • Iodine is scarce? That’s news to me. One source I see cites a price to $28/kg, and US consumption of some 4,100 tonnes (I assume tonnes).

      Cobalt is also used in steel and various alloys. Price $13.50/lb – about the same as iodine, (note /kg and /lb) and consumption 10,000 tonnes.

      I think there’s much more iodine to be had if the demand warranted it, but I don’t have references.

      • The oceans are polluted by iodine at 60 ppb. Time to clean it up.

        In fact most iodine comes from Chile and Japan but you can got a lot by eating seafood.

    • Warmist/Leftist are all so touchy and caring about mother earth but not these poor young serfs. The snow flakes only care about their ideology and desperate need their own safe space. They have no heart and are soulless. I’d love to see any of Hollywood elite crowd and especially Al Gore laboring in that rain soaked hell on earth place!

      • “but not these poor young serfs”.

        They don’t drive automobiles and fly planes to their second homes so I’m sure they have a very good opinion of them………..

      • I am positive any moment now Gore will be all over this to save the day!!! Any moment! Any moment now…

        …waiting…waiting…waiting…waiting…waiting…waiting…waiting…waiting…

      • But….but…but…. they care about the health risks of nuclear plants and fracking don’t they?
        Isn’t that all about their concern for humanity across the globe?

    • Environmentally friendly means the countries buying the solar, electric, etc are completely insulated and protected from the environmental damage wrought by their purchases. “Out of sight, out of mind” used to be outgrown by humans around age two. Now, it seems a whole segment of the population believes if you can’t see it, it doesn’t exist.

  3. I look at these children and I am forced to recall the Cuban and Brazilian sugar fields and mills of 300 years ago built and served by slave labor for the sake of sugar in Europe’s Coffee and tea. For those who think we have advanced, think again. My God I hate this.

    • Well I’m one of those who thinks the human condition has indeed improved in the last 300 years.

      Actually, world health statistics & life-expectancy demonstrate this. The sheer numbers of people/children in rotten circumstances like this is reduced (in absolute numbers as well as % of population).

      Running around yelling “it’s no better that it ever was – it’s worse that we thought” is simply useless virtue-signaling. Frankly, with reasonable safety (scarce commodity in B Congo), capitalists would probably compete to get there to mine with equipment designed to increase production, lower cost, protect miners (maybe even the environment) so children weren’t employed.

      • Say for instance a mining company did start mining there as you imply. Thousands of adults and children will lose their only source of income. How does that help them?

      • johchi7

        You’re kidding, right?

        Using your logic, you’ve just proven everybody on the planet went unemployed, homeless and starved to death as a result of the first steam engine.

        Ok,I’ll try explaining this: cost goes down, demand goes up (remember the 22 pounds per electric car?), supply goes up, creating more (hopefully, safer) jobs…

  4. I’d we could clear out Ngos who frustrate proper international mining investment, Africa would have become a prosperous continent by now. Governments would be happy to have investment and local people would earn a decent living from a modern mine in proper health and safety. All Canadian mining projects abroad are subject to Canadian rules and regulations.

    Sure, governments have to improve, but the greens have a lot to answer to. What do you want these poor people to do? Lie down and die with clean lungs? Leave the ‘pristine’ wilderness for the greens personal safaris? We have greens destroying African and Indonesian forests to make diesel that apparently is killing Europeans, too. Now the bestids are going to shut diesel down and starve the people who gave up their homes so the greens could plant a forest no longer good for anything.

    Don’t look to corporate for culprits. Its Western governments,, institutions, academe, activists. Corporations could fix all this gross negligence over 60yrs in one generation. They are the only entities who can do real economic development that takes. That transfers technology. Look at the miracle transformation of China! That wasn’t accomplished by Merkel or Cameron or Obama or the WWF and Fiends of the earth.

  5. So if more people die trying to change the earth’s climate than are saved from the myth of CAGW it’s OK? Don’t look now you may see the truth.

  6. Here is one example where the poor people are trying to better their lives in an extremely depressed economy that pennies a day is equivalent to making dollars a day in a better economy. Now the “better than thou” people are trying to stop them from earning a meagre existence, because they see it as child labor they are opposed to, where they themselves have probably never gone hungry unless they were on a diet. They ignore that after child labor laws were passed in the USA that many people became homeless and were starving when they were forced to stop working in those so called “sweatshops” that were helping to feed and house their families. This ideology of child labor has created a lot of poorer people and now most children don’t have work ethics or any real idea of the value of money. So when you get on a pedestal to condemn people to poverty…it really gripes my gonans. It’s not their fault that their countries are econmically depressed… It’s those in charge of those countries faults.

      • So your moral solution to this issue is to have those children and their families starve to death? Johchi7 is raising the utilitarian point that, as horrific a picture is painted by this article, the alternative is worse. Your response is textbook virtue signaling that simply says that you are moral and any other viewpoint is not.

      • You cannot see that you create a false dichotomy by your comment, Kurt? Either work in miserable conditions or starve. Yeah, that’s what I said (not).

      • Furthermore, Kurt, you have a reading comprehension issue: my comment was NOT faulting the miners for their choice to work there (I did not address that issue at all) — I am blaming those who are responsible for the conditions in those mines.

        Re: “virtue signaling” — by YOUR view, there simply is no such thing as morality at all.

      • The facts are that throughout history children contributed to the economy of their tribes and family by doing the light work that created grownups of them. As a child I had pride in doing job’s around our home and got job’s that paid me wages before I was 10 that I bought thing’s with for me. So I learned the value of money by knowing what I had done to earn it. This took some of the pressure off my father to provide for our family. All 6 of my siblings had done much the same thing before I was born. It was never forced on us to work and we made the choice ourselves. Today children work globally in farming and in factories and within the USA just having a paper route or lemonade stand or mowing lawns or shoveling snow has become illegal for children. Some even see selling Girl Scout cookies or magazine subscriptions as child labor. You can work in your parents business in most cases, but not for anyone else.

      • “Janice Moore
        August 7, 2017 at 10:05 pm
        You cannot see that you create a false dichotomy by your comment, Kurt? Either work in miserable conditions or starve. Yeah, that’s what I said (not).”

        “Furthermore, Kurt, you have a reading comprehension issue: my comment was NOT faulting the miners for their choice to work there (I did not address that issue at all) — I am blaming those who are responsible for the conditions in those mines.”

        I’m not buying this explanation of yours. Johchi7 posts a comment indicating that child labor is often necessary and that working in these mines improves the lives of these children. The article backs that up, indicating that the children need to work in the mines to feed themselves and to survive. You then reply to Johchi7’s post with your one sentence, “periods-after-every-word” moralizing. You made no argument that things would be OK if only the mines were up to OSHA standards, or if overtime pay were given, or if they had 15-minute breaks four times a day. Nor did you consider whether a war-torn country like the Congo even had the technology or the resources to adopt safer mining practices. When you were referring to “Such. An. Operation” you were generically referring to a child labor operation – there is no other rational conclusion given the context of your response.

        There is no false dichotomy being presented here – it’s a real one. If the children were not working in that mine they would risk starvation. Nor did my response at all suggest that you were blaming the miners – you were blaming the mining operators for employing children in such miserable conditions, oblivious to any thought about whether those conditions were better than the alternative,

      • Janice, if there were better options, don’t you think those people would already have switched to them?
        They work in those conditions precisely because better jobs don’t exist.

      • Janice

        I usually enjoy (and agree) with your comments (and look forward to doing so in the future).

        Not on this one.

        You (and a lot of us on this thread) have come face-to-face with evil, and your loud virtue-signaling (which is the ONLY thing you are doing on this ugly topic) is productive only if it mobilizes a real solution – and I’m not hearing that from you (I expect better).

        Until a better way if found to feed these kids (and their parents), denying them jobs will either kill them outright, or seriously weaken their already abused health.

      • Javert I feel the same way. This is a Government created problem in all countries. We have people right here in the USA living in squalor and it’s the government that created these problems. Inequality is more divided in socialist and totalitarian regimes that say they’re for helping the people, but create just the reverse. Look at nearly 20 year’s of Venezuela and California. They had booming economies and now are in debt by taking from the rich to give to the poor. The rich are fleeing leaving the poor that cannot flee or are on the receiving end and don’t care. But in the Congo like many countries they don’t have welfare or foodstamps to get any help at all. The WHO and other’s go into these places and the government – usually their military – takes what they want first. But here in the USA if you don’t qualify for assistance you don’t get any…and people with pride wouldn’t even try to apply. “The Grapes of Wrath” shows how bad thing’s were in our Great Depression. Old western movies and shows show the plight of people just trying to survive. People don’t read the Classics any more and therefore have no clue how people have lived by their own efforts and just see poor people as worthless. During our last election people stood up to the Satus Quo that has failed them for generations. Across the USA the people that were called Irredeemable Deplorables were ridiculed as being uneducated hicks in “flyover states” and only the greater metropolitan area’s voted for the Status Quo. We now have 35 states that have Republican Governor’s and the Democrats have lost more Congressional Seats than since the Great Depression Era. Even though those metropolitan area’s have the greater population that voted the Constitution did work. But, places like these African countries have no recourse to change their government. Survival is their only option. And no other country is going to get involved there.

      • Correction: Socialist governments don’t take from the rich and give to the poor. They take from the middle class and give most of it to themselves and their rich cronies. The poor get a pittance, just enough to keep them voting for the compassionate overlords who give them free money.

    • Again, slavery is way better than death so slavery is morally okay if it keeps people alive. That is your argument.

      • Sheri,
        And you are arguing that death is way better than slavery? They always have that option if they agree with you.

      • Clyde: I am saying that slavery is not morally okay. I disagree that any activity that keeps people alive should be supported, even if it’s evil and destructive. Arguing that this mining keeps people alive is the same as arguing North Korea keeps people alive and we should approve of their methods because if we don’t, people die. We should not use sanctions to keep them from firing missles at us because people will die. You are arguing that ANYTHING is okay if it keeps people alive. Sex slaves, inhumane labor camps, selling your kidney, selling your baby, etc. If a few die due to the deplorable conditions, well, that’s how it goes. I can’t see that no matter what. It’s advocating for dictatorships, economic slavery, and cruel treatment of humans. It’s interesting that you do not care if a “few” die from working here, just that “a lot” will die if the mining stops. You don’t even know that for sure, you assume it. The author may say that, but he offers little evidence.

      • Convince a man that there is no alternative but to work for you, and you will have no need to chain his body, for you will have chained his mind in gyves stronger than steel.

  7. It heralds a future of clean energy, free from pollution ….

    This ^ is the lie behind the misery of those miners. CO2 is “clean.” CO2 is not “pollution.”

    Cladding and
    Cobalt mines like this and
    No heat in winter and
    No jobs because the factory had no electricity anymore

    are ALL because of a lie.

    But, Al Gore and Elon Musk and their ilk, right down to the last little perky solar sales rep., are happy. They make money off it.

    • Thank you Janice for your posts above. I agree with you whole completely and find those that try to rationalize this horror to be (completely wrong). With their logic they would be ok with just about anything as long as the kids were provided enough to eke out a meager existence.

      • Thank YOU, GH, for your affirmation. I needed your support very much after encountering that makes-me-shudder-he-is-so-coldhearted Kurt. Thanks for taking the time!

      • Yes Janice, thanks. It takes a hard heart to see such things and rationalize them away to keep the climate change scam going. Hang in there and don’t let them discourage you.

      • “With their logic they would be OK with just about anything as long as the kids were provided enough to eke out a meager existence.”

        So how much do you think the kids should be paid for this? Give me a number that would ease your mind about letting children work in these mines, in such conditions, and then explain why you think that this acceptable salary would be low enough to keep the mine in operation so that the children have the means to, well, live.

        There’s nothing cold-hearted about accepting what others have to do to survive unless there is a better alternative for providing that survival. Neither of you have offered such an alternative, The world can’t be run on the best of intentions and a magic wand, and if say a whole bunch of consumers were to stop buying laptops and electric cars and other battery-operated devices to reduce the demand for this kind of child labor, the only result would be to push more of those children into starvation.

      • I have opined below as a new thread. To be clear child labor is unacceptable in my mind. What the age limits should be I am not sure, but 4 year old kids should not be working in a mine just because they were born into bad situation.

      • PS I did provide an attempt at a solution below. What you provide is a voice/rationalization for acceptance of the status quo which I find inexcusable.

      • And I think children shouldn’t die because they were born into a bad situation made worse by hand-wringing consumers in developed countries. And no, you didn’t offer any kind of solution to the plight of these individual children below. You offered a solution for your own stricken conscience – banning importation of cobalt – that would have made the plight of these particular children worse. You then imagined that this would have brought about some kind of undefined “change.” Of course, in the time that it takes for this vague “change” to happen, these children might have long ago starved to death, but hey, whats a few added zeros on top of the statistics in a country where so many millions die each year anyway,

      • IF hundreds of square mikes of DRC had not been torn up to meet a grotesquely inflated demand for cobalt created by the ideological war against the fossil fuel industry by western chattering class lefties – then what would all those poor helpless unemployed people do?

        Would they just sit down looking at eachother and slowly starve to death?

        Isn’t the existence of these people before the Co mining even started, something of a mystery?

        Are African people capable of any economic activity other than being exploited as low cost mine labourers?

        If the landscape had not been torn up for the mines, might they not have:

        – Engaged in farming?

        – Built roads?

        – Built schools, shops, churches, towns, etc.?

        – Developed hotels and a tourist trade?

        – Run safari holidays for tourists?

        – Scouted football talent for European clubs?

        – Run internet cafes?

        – Made hairdressers and barber shops?

        – Set up estate agents to buy, sell and rent property?

        – Train doctors and nurses and built clinics and hospitals?

        – Run haulage companies to transport stuff around?

        – Run taxi / bus companies to transport people around?

        – Taught their children about their abundant rain forest ecosystems, their biodiversity and their conservation?

        No I guess not – none of these are as important as massaging the smug self-righteousness of metropolitan chattering class lefties and indulging their ideological war on fossil fuel.

        After all, CO2 makes trees and crops grow better, and these all get in the way of cobalt mines for electric batteries.

      • Kurt: This is the most interesting morality. As far as I can tell, selling drugs, prostitution, and theft are all morally okay if you must do them to stay alive. Morally, it’s okay to allow and support any activity that provides a half-dead life to someone. Even if it’s a shortened, miserable life. That’s quite enlightening.

      • Sheri/Janice, where is the money for modern mining equipment going to come from?
        So long as they working with just hand tools, the amount that they can collect in a day is only enough to earn them a few pennies a day.

      • Sheri, I will never judge a person who has to do degrading things in order to feed their family.
        On the other hand you are offering no solutions other than crying about how people shouldn’t be allowed to work in conditions that you find beneath you.

      • “As far as I can tell, selling drugs, prostitution, and theft are all morally okay if you must do them to stay alive.”

        That’s the law in the United States, even. It’s called the justification defense. Even taking another person’s life is justified if you are doing it to save your own. The problem with your position is that you are setting a moral absolute without regard for any particular circumstances. if some seedy enterprise is running an abusive prostitution ring in some third world country where the prostitutes have no other recourse for survival, I don’t think that it is our decision to end, or even curtail that operation without assuming future responsibility for the welfare of the prostitutes who needed that operation for survival.

        You want it both ways – congratulating yourself for being virtuous by opposing morally repugnant behavior but not accepting responsibility for the consequences of that opposition. That’s why the logical end-game of your argument, as mentioned below, is the unethical position that you can decide for someone else whether death is better than survival under the conditions that offend our standards of decency.

    • What’s missing from this conversation is an analysis of how much it would cost the cell phone, EV, etc industries if mining companies paid adults a wage that kept them from starvation and instituted the most basic of safety standards. (Of course it would be much higher than present material costs.)

      As Janice is saying, the conversation assumes the ONLY way to get cobalt is with unsafe conditions and below poverty wages. That indeed is a false dichotomy.

      I’m about as die hard a Capitalist as they come; but one must look across the entire supply chain for today’s “goodies” and see that the wage reward is completely out of balance.

      As I said below, pay the MINIMUM for basic safety and above starvation; the price of your EV or iPod would go up, but then that’s a basic choice you have as a consumer (no one HAS to have the latest ipad, EV, phone to survive) .

      • P.S.
        I’m reminded of the Left’s outrage concerning child labor for T-shirts and vowing NEVER to buy such a product.
        What’s different in this instance? (/ rhetorical question)

      • Where’s the money for all this western mining equipment going to come from? Are you offering to buy it for them?

      • George Daddis:

        What you aren’t comprehending is in the Belgian Congo, it doesn’t matter what the price is – corruption ensures the money is stolen before it trickles down. This same dynamic works in Haiti with disaster & foreign aid.

        In any case, the real solution requires getting people out of the toxic pits, which implies either redesigning electrical equipment or automation (which requires capital, which ain’t going to the Belgian Congo under the existing government).

  8. It’s not fair to paint just the greenies as villains here. Are you or your spouse wearing a diamond ring? Do you know where it came from? link

    Lots of materials required to make green products have a less than ethical source but that is by no means confined to green products.

    • Yeah but the greens are the ones signaling their virtuousness and believe they serve a higher purpose than we Deplorables. And how is it okay to add more pain for a worthless fake problem to solve. We’re not supposed to know any better.

      • But it’s not adding more pain – as stated in the article, “With his mother dead, Dorsen lives with his father in the bush and the two have to work daily in the cobalt mine to earn money for food . . . In a country devastated by civil wars in which millions have died, there is no other way for families to survive.”

      • Have you even read the full article? – That was a direct quote. You can’t pick and choose what things from the article you want to take at face value and what things you want to discount. If you accept the article’s recitation of the environmental hazards of working in the mine you have to accept the article’s recitation of the economic consequences of not working in the mine, and that article states quite clearly that “there is no other way for families to survive.”

        Now if you want to criticize the mine operators for employing children, I would think you would have to be the one showing that there is a ready alternative.

      • IF hundreds of square mikes of DRC had not been torn up to meet a grotesquely inflated demand for cobalt created by the ideological war against the fossil fuel industry by western chattering class lefties – then what would all those poor helpless unemployed people do?

        Would they just sit down looking at eachother and slowly starve to death?

        Isn’t the existence of these people before the Co mining even started, something of a mystery?

        Are African people capable of any economic activity other than being exploited as liw cost mine labourers?

        If the landscape had not been torn up for the mines, might they not have:

        – Engaged in farming?

        – Built roads?

        – Built schools, shops, churches, towns, etc.?

        – Developed hotels and a tourist trafe?

        – Run safari holidays for tourists?

        – Scouted football talent for European clubs?

        – Run internet cafes?

        – Run haulage companies to transport stuff around?

        – Run taxi / bus companies to transport people around?

        – Taught their children about their abundant rain forest ecosystems, their biodiversity and their conservation?

        No I guess not – none of these are as important as massaging the smug self-righteousness of metropolitan chattering class lefties and indulging their ideological war on fossil fuel.

        After all, CO2 makes trees and crops grow better, and these all get in the way of cobalt mines for electric batteries.

      • IF hundreds of square mikes of DRC had not been torn up to meet a grotesquely inflated demand for cobalt created by the ideological war against the fossil fuel industry by western chattering class lefties – then what would all those poor helpless unemployed people do?

        Would they just sit down looking at eachother and slowly starve to death?

        Isn’t the existence of these people before the Co mining even started, something of a mystery?

        Are African people capable of any economic activity other than being exploited as low cost mine labourers?

        If the landscape had not been torn up for the mines, might they not have:

        – Engaged in farming?

        – Built roads?

        – Built schools, shops, churches, towns, etc.?

        – Developed hotels and a tourist trade?

        – Run safari holidays for tourists?

        – Scouted football talent for European clubs?

        – Run internet cafes?

        – Made hairdressers and barber shops?

        – Set up estate agents to buy, sell and rent property?

        – Train doctors and nurses and built clinics and hospitals?

        – Run haulage companies to transport stuff around?

        – Run taxi / bus companies to transport people around?

        – Taught their children about their abundant rain forest ecosystems, their biodiversity and their conservation?

        No I guess not – none of these are as important as massaging the smug self-righteousness of metropolitan chattering class lefties and indulging their ideological war on fossil fuel.

        After all, CO2 makes trees and crops grow better, and these all get in the way of cobalt mines for electric batteries.

      • “IF hundreds of square [miles] of DRC had not been torn up to meet a grotesquely inflated demand for cobalt created by the ideological war against the fossil fuel industry by western chattering class lefties – then what would all those poor helpless unemployed people do?”

        That’s at least a rational argument. I think the factual premise is wrong, however. Cobalt is an exceedingly rare element, and I think about 70% of the world’s production occurs in the Congo. Demand for cobalt preceded electric vehicles since it is used in all rechargeable batteries and has other electronic uses, so the situation you’re describing can’t be laid at the “ideological war against the fossil fuel industry.” And the DRC has been plagued by one civil war or another since the 1960’s – well before that ideological war started and well before we had things like iPads, iPhones, and Priuses, so no, absent the demand for cobalt I don’t think the populace would have banded together to form a functioning economy.

        I will say that if there is any hope at all for places like the Congo to develop into a civilized society it will require the use of a lot of fossil fuels.

      • Again, Kurt, it’s okay for children to be used in “adult films” if there’s no other way to survive for them. It’s okay for them to be sold into the sex trade to survive. You are arguing that selling drugs, robbing stores, and any activity that preserves lives, no matter how miserable and short, should be looked at as a economic opportunity for the poor and downtrodden. Americans should stop buying American and buy from countries with child labor so the children can live a few years and die from disease and abuse. Keep supporting the activity and the country will advance? Maybe. Unlikely in many cases. Supporting brutal governments insures it will not stop. That’s okay though. A short, miserable, sickly life is to be desired above all else and supported by those who “care”.

      • Janice, the fact that they have to live like this proves it.
        Or are you claiming that the father and son are too stupid to find other options?

      • Sheri, once again, you are declaring that people should have no right to do things you consider to be degrading.
        Why don’t we put you in a situation where you have two choices, degrading work, or watching your kids starve to death and see how long your moral high horse goes uncooked.

      • “Again, Kurt, it’s okay for children to be used in “adult films” if there’s no other way to survive for them. It’s okay for them to be sold into the sex trade to survive. You are arguing that selling drugs, robbing stores, and any activity that preserves lives, no matter how miserable and short, should be looked at as a economic opportunity for the poor and downtrodden.”

        That’s not remotely my argument. I’m arguing that it’s OK to buy a cell phone, or an electric car. These activities are not immoral. You’re response is a straw man you construct because you can’t rationally respond to my argument.

        If you want to sell your kidney to someone with renal failure to raise the money for a life-saving operation for your child, I’m not going to stop you and watch your child die. I’m not going to be a kidney patient that gives you the opportunity, either, and if you decide based on your own moral code that you won’t sell a kidney to save your child, I’m not going to criticize you for it. These kinds of moral dilemmas have no absolute answers, and all I can do is act according to my own view of what is right or what is wrong. But I’m going to keep my nose to myself.

        You’re the one trying to shame others into behavior for which other people besides yourself will have to suffer the consequences.

  9. I’m not sure how to react to this. If I didn’t know better I’d think I was reading something in the New Yorker or the Atlantic Monthly. These people are probably glad that they have an opportunity to earn any money at all! I take it that it is alright for children to help grow and harvest food in an agrarian culture, but it isn’t alright for them to help earn money for the family with mining? In any event, there was no mineralogical information given so I’m having to spend some time to try to verify what seem to be fantastic claims about the toxicity. However, readers might find this link to be of interest: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/932798.stm

    Another article in Quartz (the emagazine) puts the blame for the claimed situation on corruption in government: https://qz.com/1038143/two-investigations-into-corruption-in-resource-rich-dr-congo-show-why-it-stays-so-poor/ I’m sure none of you can relate to government corruption! /sarc

    Before any of you become too self-righteous about the conditions in DR Congo, do you own a cell phone or laptop computer? If you do, you are contributing to the demand for cobalt. You can either congratulate yourself for providing an opportunity for the poor families to make money, or if so inclined, flagellate yourself for encouraging the poor to do whatever it takes to survive under difficult situations. Let your politics be your guide.

    • A cellphone requires .022lbs of cobalt, an electric car 33lbs. An electric car requires 1500 times as much cobalt. How many children were needed to provide the .022 lbs of cobalt, versus the electric car. This is about money—the more of the mineral required, the more child labor. Equating buying a laptop or cellphone versus an electric car denies the reality of quantity. Until the demand for cobalt went sky-high, do we know if there were hundreds of children working in mines? It’s like rare-earth minerals. All the environmental and human damage went sky-high when wind turbines increased to the thousands. It’s called a “gold rush” and human greed is very predictable.

      • Sheri,

        So, you are rationalizing that it is alright if you only make a SMALL contribution to the demand — equivalent to one child? On the other hand, while a cellphone only requires a small amount of cobalt, cellphones are a lot more abundant than electric cars. Thus, the cumulative use is undoubtedly greater. Even relatively poor people in Africa own cellphones. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the miners own cellphones.

        Something that you seem to be missing is that most of these individuals are self-employed, artisanal miners. They aren’t employees of some large government or corporate mine. I don’t think that they are purposely choosing work that is the hardest and most dangerous. They are probably making the only choice they have instead of starving. You raise an important question above about what people are willing or forced to do to survive. The kinds of enterprises you mention are certainly antithetical to the American view of life and the way we think that children should be treated. But an important distinction is that many in the ‘industries’ really have little choice. Would you have them starve on principle? A slightly less emotionally-charged comparison might be, should a woman of legal age, with few if any job skills, be prevented from earning money through prostitution? There are some women who advocate for legalization of prostitution.

        You ask about the employment of children in the mines. First off, the pictures in the article look very much like colombite/tantalite (AKA coltans) mining in sediments. That also started about the same time that cellphones became popular. If one is existing in a subsistence environment, and there isn’t anyone to watch over a child, doesn’t it make perfect sense to have a child working alongside its parent? Children are able to focus closer to the ground than adults, and are perfectly capable of picking up fist-sized rocks. Thus, the child can supplement the hard physical labor of picking and shoveling of the parent, by examining the waste pile for overlooked pieces of ore that have some value.

        There are many inequities and injustices in the world. Expecting people to refuse to do the unimaginable (to Americans) on principle, and starve to demonstrate their commitment, is not a solution to the problem. Perhaps we should invade DRC, depose the government, and install our laws and infrastructure. Would that work for you?

      • Clyde: No, I am saying if the demand is lower, the abuses are less likely. That’s always been true—the more money, the higher the chances of people ending up exploited.

        Interesting that you avoided the child sex rings, etc. You went for women, not children. I am asking if your child can be rented out to prostitution if that’s the only way to make money or the only way you think you can find? Answer that.

        I am not saying we should invade the DRC. Considering their leader refused to step down, I doubt they’d take kindly to that. Like it or not, refusal to buy the cobalt from those who exploit children is the only way to stop the abuse. If the kids are there working happily alongside Daddy in the mines, I have no objection to children working. If the kid is carrying 60 lbs of rocks and ends up dying at 15 from the abuse, I do object. We can try to make inroads into the country and improve conditions. We can not buy the cobalt until conditions improve. You’d be amazed how lost income improves conditions. Historically, that has been quite successful.

        In spite of your contention, I am not for making everyone have the same values as America. I am, however, unable to see how supporting evil people who abuse others makes the world a better place. I don’t see evil people changing their ways without incentive. It just does not happen. That’s not how humans work.

        As for the math on the cell phones, according to Wiki (which I used because it was convenient) there are 2 million electric cars worldwide. At 1500 cell phones per car, that equals 3 trillion cell phones. Also, the electric cars are MANDATED. The cell phones are not. The car numbers will continue to rise as more countries mandate them.

      • Sheri,
        You asked, ” I am asking if your child can be rented out to prostitution if that’s the only way to make money or the only way you think you can find?” My answer is that it should be an individual’s choice as to whether something is too degrading to do to survive. Human’s are sometimes presented with extremely difficult decisions, such as in the movie Sophie’s Choice, with Merrill Streep. I would say that the prime directive that evolution codes into all of us is survival. A child is probably incapable of considering all the ramifications of a decision such as you want to substitute for child labor, and the parent would have to make the decision. Insight on how people view such difficult decisions should come from the observation that if the parent either killed their child or ‘allowed’ it to starve, rather than subject it to the degradation of sexual slavery, they would be at risk of being prosecuted by the law for homicide. The law should be your answer.

  10. From my cursory searching of the internet, it appears that the claimed “cobalt lung disease” is associated with industrial activities and is also known as “hard metal lung disease.” It appears to be associated with tungsten carbide dust in the manufacturing and sharpening of WC tool bits, which often use cobalt or nickel as binders. It appears unlikely to me that the claimed affliction of miners is actually “cobalt lung” disease. From that, you can draw your own conclusions as to the veracity of the rest of the claims.

    • yeah
      and the entire article was based on the dead babby fallacy.
      and the ‘let them eat cake’ clueless concern trolls are totally interested in virtue signaling for the sake of their own precious vanity. their tears are so much more important than the tears that come from hunger that hurts.
      johchi7 is right. he has the ethical argument. janice does not.

  11. Every week since Anthony went on leave we can some mindless and ill-informed electric-car-bashing post. Significant quantities of cobalt are used in permanent magnet motors. Tesla for one use induction motors. Lithium-cobalt cells are obsolete. Cobalt is used in some newer formulations but at least two popular formulations do not use cobalt.

    The main use of Cobalt is metal alloys that go into stuff like aircraft engines: https://www.thebalance.com/metal-profile-cobalt-2340131.

    If you want an emotional post with pictures of children, try bashing biofuels. An SUV tank of biofuel uses agricultural production that would feed a child for a year

    • Even better… Child slave laborers cutting sugar cane for biofuels… ;)

      PEV’s have so many flaws that a “save the children” plea is unnecessary.

      • David,

        When I read something like, “Picking through a mountain of huge rocks with his tiny bare hands,…” my BS detector goes off. The pictures don’t substantiate “a mountain of HUGE rocks,” and “his tiny” hands is redundant for a 4-year old; it is apparently offered as something to appeal to the emotions of uncritical readers. Besides, even if his father could afford them, I doubt that work-gloves are made in a size small enough for “tiny bare hands.” This article is short on supportable facts and long on claims that primarily appeal to uncritical emotions.

    • Fascinating how pointing out the hidden truths regarding electric cars is defined as bashing by those who prefer their religion to be uncontested.

  12. Johchi7 and Kurt,

    No one here is decrying kids working lemonade stands, paper routes and working on family farms. Those develop work ethics and not to purchase meals for the evening. Child slavery (which is what I see described in the article) is an abomination. No civilized nation or company should find anything like this acceptable. With your logic we should accept Indian families selling their kids into child slavery, or Cambodian children as sex slave. How about trafficking in ivory and wild animals. All of these could use your excuse to allow these practices to be equally acceptable. The USA should banish the import of cobalt and products using cobalt from nations who allow these types of practices (including APPLE). This is the only way to make positive change that might allow the father to go to work and make enough to feed and provide for his family. This is not a green issue but a humanity issue that obviously goes way past renewables.

    • I didn’t see anything in that article indicating that the profiled children were “slaves.” In fact, the primary child profiled worked in the mine with his father, and the article indicates that they were being paid for it. If you can show that the children were forced into working in the mine, then I’d agree with you.

      The rest of your argument is a textbook example of wishful thinking. If the U.S. banished the import of cobalt, one of two things would happen. One – the cobalt trade would shift to the black market and be run by people even more ruthless than these guys; or two – mines like these would shut down and the workers would lose their income with little or no other opportunity to earn enough to survive. You talk about “positive change that might allow the father to go to work and make enough to feed and provide for his family.” That’s exactly what the father in this story is doing, along with his son. You want take that job away from them, and presume that your magical “positive change” will produce a better job opportunity on a war-ravaged third-world country. .

      • You can continue to provide callous responses. There is no economic reason why these mines could not be profitable and treat those working in the mine with human dignity and allow the citizens of the country to improve their family’s lives. What will it cost us as consumers? An extra buck for an IPhone or a dollar less profit per phone for APPLE?. I am not saying I have the answers but a civilized world has worked to outlaw killing of elephants for their tusks (and no we have not obliterated the trade in ivory), but we find children in these circumstances as throwaway consumables? Yes, choice to work in these mines or to eat is a form of slavery in my mind. Yes there are all forms of evil throughout the world. But looking the other way should not be acceptable.

      • Why is is that you’re so emotionally invested in calling my responses “callous” when I’m clearly indicating my belief that without that mine, and our demand for the cobalt in it, many if not most of the children working there will die.

        And your economics is all wrong. Charging an extra dollar for an I-phone won’t do anything, and Apple has no way of directing its profits to the wages of the workers at this mine. Go research what the Congo is like and then start describing your plan to ensure that any money sent over there will go to “treat[ing] those working in the mine with human dignity and allow[ing] the citizens of the country to improve their family’s lives.” Ridiculous. If it was that simple, all the foreign aid flowing into that country would have already driven up the wages at the mine because the populace wouldn’t be so desperate to work there.

      • Most thinking people would equate the use of overlords, ready to strike if a child spills any of the cargo with a type of slavery.

      • Not all slaves have chains and are forced to live in a particular area. Slavery by economics is just as damaging.

      • Sheri,

        You said, “Slavery by economics is just as damaging.” Yes, even now I can hear Tennessee Ernie Ford singing 29 Tons of Coal, and lamenting that he owes his soul to the company store. You are beginning to sound like a left-wing SJW railing against capitalism.

      • Paying people just enough to survive on when they have no other options is economic slavery. The mine OWNS them.

        The photo looks like a great job to you, does it? Idyllic father/son working side by side. Mind-boggling.

      • Go Home, unless you make a point of only buying the most expensive cell phone on the market, then you claim that we should be willing to pay a dollar or two more for our cell phones rings mighty hollow.

      • Sheri, not the old wage slave nonsense.
        Regardless, yes, they have to work in these mines because they have no other option.
        You on the other hand seem to be dead set on eliminating even that bad option.
        How does that benefit them?

      • Sheri, please provide evidence that the mine owners can afford to pay more.
        Remember that each of these workers is only mining a few pounds of raw ore per day.

      • People have to work in order to have food to eat.
        So what?
        Are you proposing that people shouldn’t have to work in order to eat?
        If so, please write a book detailing how we are supposed to get from the real world to this utopia you are proposing.

    • your exploitation of them for the purpose of pretending to moral superiority is disgusting.
      you’re mooching off their misery for your virtue signaling pleasure.
      if it were sincere, you’d make them a better offer, right? but that’s not what really concerns you, is it?

    • Go Home,

      You said, “There is no economic reason why these mines could not be profitable and treat those working in the mine with human dignity and allow the citizens of the country to improve their family’s lives.” On what do you base such a claim? What kind of ore are they working? What is the grade of the ore? What you are presenting is a fantasy claim based on little understanding of the economics of mining. Artisanal mining is rampant throughout the world precisely because it offers individuals and families an opportunity to earn a little money from deposits that are too low-grade to be of interest to a mining company using mechanized mining techniques. I’ll bet you grew up in a city and have never been up close and personal to any kind of mine.

    • What I find in your ideology is you’re imposing you’re moral highbrow righteousness on how other people live. It’s funny how so many talk about accepting diversity of other cultures and then want them to change things they don’t like the way have lived for generations. Here in the USA we have city dwellers that view country folk as ignorant hicks and trash. While they have created vast populations of poor and homeless people they see as a blight on their cities. In economically depressed countries the elites of government created the same problems for their country folk and poor intercity dwellers. Have you ever read Thomas Sowell book’s about wealth and poverty? Demographics and topographics play a big part in how villages formed into cities and how the country surrounding them supply their needs, while they create the need for the products and what they will pay for the products to sell as higher prices when they become the distributors and then dictate what the suppliers provide them. This creates price distortions for everything because of these middlemen as wholesalers. These poor people in these poor countries are controlled by their government in the same way. It keeps the producer’s poor that supply the products that the wholesale buyer’s profit from selling at higher prices. So if the poor people were actually paid higher prices for what the market demand is, the end products prices would soar because of the various steps it takes to make them. You seem to put this humanitarian label on this because it is your belief that it is wrong. While ignoring that without them doing what they’re doing they don’t get to eat or try to better their lives with what they earn. And the fact they are paid, negates the ideology that this is slave labor.

    • This will not stop the real problem that after the African states got independence few if any of their leaders had people with even the greed levels of foreign owners and colonialists.

      • JFH,
        It is fitting that the unions would protest child labor because it protects the jobs of adults. The case has been made that one of the reasons that we encourage children to stay in school is to keep them out of the labor market. Unfortunately, one of the unintended consequences is that a typical college graduate doesn’t know as much as a high school graduate from a century ago.

    • Posting a link with no commentary associated with the thread is pointless. Just what is your point? Hopefully that the history has proven that child labor in our country has been outlawed and not acceptable in a civilized society. And that dignity should extend to children in the rest of the world.

      • Child labor in this country was only outlawed after most families could provide for their own survival with only the parent(s) working. That so many people had no need to have their children working provided the political impetus for child labor laws. Had that not first occurred, child labor would not have been outlawed in the U.S. There’s no dignity in dying of starvation.

      • The only place where child labor was still common in this country when the child labor laws were passed were farms and family firms.
        Needless to say, farms and family firms were exempted from the law.

      • Sheri, you really should calm down, your posts are getting further and further afield.
        I don’t see anyone defending draconian governments. Just pointing out that the solutions you offer, while making you feel better about yourself, don’t help anyone and in fact hurt those you target.

      • I wonder what the miners in the picture would think of Sheri taking away their jobs without having any replacement that will actually feed them STARTING TODAY.

      • The direct cause of the situation in the DRC is corrupt officials and the corrupt companies who bribe them.

        Unlike most of the readers here I have been to the province several times and seen the ‘scorie’ mountain in Lubumbashi (roasted black pebbly residue from processing ores).

        There are multiple problems for children in Katanga. It is common for parents to evict a ‘witch-child’ from their home on suspicion that they are the one causing illness, unemployment or any other negative thing. There are 75,000 ‘witch-children’ abandoned in Lubumbashi alone. They have zero income. Some polish shoes.

        When it comes to mining, everyone is accepted at slave wages and medieval working conditions because the Eastern companies won’t pay more to the overseers. As one explained to me, he has a price he is willing to pay. If officials demand bribes in one form or another, he said, “It doesn’t come out of my share.” In other words he has to make a profit and if more than half the DRC’s share is absorbed by the corrupt bosses in the area, then it comes out of the portion that would have gone to the group doing the mining. It is not a problem he can solve, and if that is how people want to run their country, he will deal with. A policy of non-intervention.

        Until the official give a damn about their own people nothing will change, as long as there are company men as willing as the one I talked to about how he dealt with the issue.

        The country as a whole is being robbed blind by invaders: individuals from Lebanon, India, China, and others. There are legitimate mines which are well operated and a cluster of those that are run by ‘rebels’ who use almost all the income to buy weapons. Zimbabwe illegally operates mines in territory under the control of the Zimbabwean army! It is just unbelievable what goes on there. It is the sort of thing that should be sorted out by the UN on behalf of humanity but they have no teeth. When Dag Hammerskjold tried, a certain intelligence agency is reputed to have killed him. So it continues. Honesty and fairness are a health hazard: especially leading to lead poisoning.

        There is no peace and there are child slaves in the DRC because so many people want that to continue.

      • If saying that other people making choices you disagree with should be outlawed is logic, then indeed, your logic is fine.

    • If I understand you, you’re mistaking the argument. The fallacy of relative privation is when you say X problem is not that bad because it might have been worse. The fallacy is not “X” should be tolerated because without it, worse “Y” problem may occur.

      Here’s a perfect example everyone on this site should understand. Accepting that burning fossil fuels will cause at least some temperature rise and cause at least some harm, Is it a fallacy to nonetheless argue against the reactionary restriction on fossil fuel use because we get more benefits from using fossil fuels than the harm that can be demonstrated from burning it? No, that’s not a fallacy. It’s perfectly acceptable reasoning.

      The argument I am raising above is exactly the same. I find the conditions these children work in as horrific as anyone else posting here. But unlike others, I realize that actions have consequences and you have to weight those consequences. If such operations were shut down, the harm to those children will be worse. And the persons here criticizing my point of view don’t ask about consequences, they don’t present any alternatives or reasoned responses, they just jump to the conclusion they want – that they are the moral ones and I’m the “makes-me-shudder-he-is-so-coldhearted” one (although I did laugh at that).

      • “The fallacy of relative privation is when you say X problem is not that bad because it might have been worse. The fallacy is not “X” should be tolerated because without it, worse “Y” problem may occur …’.
        =========================
        A distinction without a difference.

      • No it’s not. The real fallacy is when my son gets a D on a report card and says, “hey, it could have been an F” or when a 15-year old gets caught smoking a cigarette and says “it could have been crack cocaine.”

        There’s no fallacy in saying “If that Utah hiker didn’t cut off his arm (a horrible tragedy) that was trapped by a rock, he would have died in a canyon (a worse tragedy).

      • Unfortunately, I see your point. The proper intervention, as I see it, would be to create the kind of situation that allows true choice: “Sir, I will pay your son 10p per day to attend school, or you can have him work with you in the mine for 8p a day. Your choice.” I submit that that is a solution. That is the sort of thing we should work to bring about, if there were any way we could. Sadly, with the state of things in the Congo, I don’t know how that could come to be. Maybe others here have experience with similar circumstances and have found workable solutions.

      • Sheri, when you have to mischaracterize your opponents arguments you might as well admit that you have lost the argument.
        First off the issue is children doing hard labor.
        You are the one dragging in emotionally charged extraneous issues.
        secondly nobody has argued that there is nothing wrong with the child sex trade. We have just pointed out that in the situation given above, shutting down the mine will harm those you claim to want to help.

      • Those “emotionally charged” additions are what are making people uncomfortable. Arguing for child labor in a mine is about as emotionally charged as it comes.

      • “Arguing for child labor in a mine is about as emotionally charged as it comes.”

        No one is arguing “for” child labor in a mine. People are arguing “against” interfering in other people’s options for survival. The choice of whether a person has their child work with them in a mine to provide food or other things necessary for survival should be made by the people who have to bear the consequences, one way or another.

      • Sheri, as always, you compare the real world to some idealized world that exists only in your head.
        The options are not child labor, or child spending their time in school and play.
        Out here in the real world, the options for those people is child labor, or child starving to death.

  13. Stop bothering me your child labour piffle. I have to rush off to Waitrose in my Prius to get some Nicaraguan mange-tout.

  14. Barbara Jones in The Mail on Sunday could be running for Rusty Radiator Award.

    I’d personally let Africa catch up with us. But it seems The Central African Mining and Exploration Company (CAMEC) has sold >95% of its shares to the Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation, which has headquarters elsewhere. May be in London or Luxembourg.

  15. It seems that those climate sceptics about human-induced global heating, and who are also out to criticise the move towards electric vehicles (seen plenty of posts on this site about how Tesla is failing, cancellation of orders for electric cars etc.) are now also criticising American business and innovation. Strange – what do these people actually want?:

    GM is selling a $5,000 electric car in China: http://money.cnn.com/2017/08/07/autos/gm-china-electric-car/index.html

    • human-induced global heating

      Sounds awfully funny. What could that possibly be, especially in this context?

      Are the millions of degrees from the centre of the Earth à la Al bursting from boreholes over there? Or have they discovered a natural nuclear fission reactor in the soil, like in Oklo Gabon? Or is it Urban Heat Island effect, not quite like in Grenfell Tower, but you get the idea.

      Oh wait, are you a member of a sect believing mankind’s sins (in the form of a naturally occuring, life-sustaining trace gas) cause damnation (increase the average outside air temperature)? While revolutionising the foundations of physico-chemical science e.g. pV=nRT and E=mc2, basically annulling the effects of mass, pressure and volume. Right?

      • David:

        If the kids were riding in that Smart Car for Two, they’ll need “scraping up”, not “saving”

    • ivankinsman

      “One climate scientist who definitely has determined what the future will be looking like if action isn’t taken to curb human induced global heating:”

      Why on earth would you bother posting a Daily Mail article from 2008 which even mentions Margaret Thatcher as a supporter. The woman’s long dead.

      And Lovelock and his ilk were saying the same thing 40 years ago, and nothing negative has happened. Indeed the single manifestation of increased atmospheric CO2 is that the planet has greened. Lovelock didn’t predict that, so why would anyone sane believe him about any of his other wacko predictions/guesses?

      • He is the one scientist who is completely independent and whose predictions about the future I think are most likely to come true, particularly migration from arid regions to more fertile ones as global heating increases.

        ‘Nothing negative has happened’ and ‘the planet has greened’. What a load of bollocks. Europe is already experiencing migration from North Africa. Glaciers in northern latitudes are melting. Time to get real on this issue instead of living in a denial bubble that everything is hunky dory and will remain so. Check out http://www.c40.org on actions being taken.

      • ivankinsman

        ‘Nothing negative has happened’ and ‘the planet has greened’. What a load of bollocks. https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2016/carbon-dioxide-fertilization-greening-earth

        14% in 30 years is pretty impressive. Hardly bollocks. Try finding anything negative which approaches that.

        Europe has always experienced migration from N.Africa, most of it driven by economics or wars, not climate change. The EU open door policy doesn’t help, if they can slip across a border and claim refugee status, they are home free.

        And of course glaciers in northern latitudes are melting, the world is getting warmer but it has nothing to do with the trace gas CO2. There is not one credible, empirical study over the last 40 years of it’s condemnation as a pollutant which has demonstrated CO2 affects the planets temperature. Now as alarmists themselves cite 30 years as a reasonable period to judge climate change over, don’t you think 40 years is sufficient time to admit that the fallacy over CO2 is now over?

        “While we were celebrating our Independence Day on July 4th, Summit Station in Greenland may have experienced the coldest July temperature ever recorded in the Northern Hemisphere at -33°C (-27.4°F). Much of Greenland has been colder-than-normal for the year so far and has had record or near record levels of accumulated snow and ice since the fall of last year. The first week of this month was especially brutal in Greenland resulting in the record low July temperature and it also contributed to an uptick in snow and ice extent – despite the fact that it is now well into their summer season.” https://www.vencoreweather.com/blog/2017/7/6/115-pm-impressive-cold-in-greenland-and-near-record-accumulations-of-snow-and-ice

        How does that work then?

        Pointing me to a site (c40) which demonstrates actions driven by the fallacy that CO2 causes global warming is a bit pointless. It’s a list of daft groupthink city officials with no evidence. They are doubtless bolstering their job security by surrounding themselves with new employees, at taxpayer expense, to attend more ‘vital’ conferences and build virtue signalling websites with no substance.

      • Ivan,

        Besides all his failed predictions he made 40 years ago, how many the predictions you post from 9 years ago have come true? You say, “Europe is already experiencing migration from North Africa”. Have you ever heard of Islamic terrorism?

        The Polar bear population have increased, food production is up, the planet is greening and the Sahara desert is not expanding, the temps have not gone up as nearly a much as predicted. Can you point to one prediction he made in your post that has come true yet?

      • Ivan. please try to keep up.
        – Read the articles you cite before posting. This one included a “scary picture” that contained Lovelock’s prediction that London would be under water by 2004. (Lovelock obviously made that prediction well before 2017, 2008 and even 2004.)
        – Read this blog. Only a few days ago an excellent article written by Dr Lindzen listed former climate scientists who have started as alarmists and have since renounced their views. Guess who was included?

      • George Daddis

        “Guess who was included?”

        George, it seems pointless debating anything with him/her. From my limited experience of WUWT these daft trolls are inclined to dive bomb the site with a single ‘researched’ comment and bug straight back out without reading the following comments, and feel good about themselves.

      • ivan, so you are saying that everything you dislike in the world is being caused by CO2. No proof necessary because you believe it to be true.
        It truly is sad how low the quality of trolls has gotten.

      • Stop trying to confuse science-based evidence with ideology. Countries didn’t sign up to the 2015 zparis climate agreement based on some ‘ideology’ – c’mon, man, you have to come up with something better than that mumbo jumbo…

      • Sheri, where have you pointed out any flaws in my ideology.
        All you have done is whine how people making decisions you disagree with in order to survive conditions you can never imagine is evil.

  16. Children working under these conditions is more than pitiful. But what is never spoken in this type of article is what happens to them if they don’t. Do they die from lack of food? Can anyone care enough and have the wherewithall to fix it?

    • Perhaps the Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation or another similar multinational will cease the opportunity and:
      -fences the area,
      -sacks the locals,
      -brings in qualified engineers and adapted heavy equipment to meet the standards,
      -harnesses Malthusians to project cobalt depletion,
      -inflates cobalt price and/or
      -demands taxpayers’ money for maintaining the average outside air temperature constant.
      etc.

  17. are the rare earths/metals used in technology such as mobile phones, solar panels and batteries any more sustainable than oil or coal? I a not making a direct comparison, but just interested as to how a huge upsurge in demand for these hi tech products can be met.

    What happens at the other end of the products life. can the material be reused or is it dumped?

    tonyb

    • CR, the so caled rare earth metals are not actually that rare. There are huge deposits in Australia and California, need be. And for uses like high strength permanent magnets for EV motors or wind turbines, the alloys can be recycled.

    • Probably never. 2/3 of cobalt usage is steel alloys that can be recycled. The newest LiB chemistry is LiNCMO2 (nickel cobalt manganese oxide). Has about 30% more energy and power densitynthan lithium cobalt oxide, and uses 2/3 less cobalt. The abundant manganese nodules in the Pacific contain a proportion of cobalt.

  18. To most of the posters here.

    1/. Go to Africa and see for yourself
    2/. Come up with a better idea than whatever is happening there that is economically and politically viable.

    In this case maybe the cobalt industry can actually eventually bring a slightly better life to these people than they live now.

    Africa limits population by high mortality rates. Unless you educate first, reducing mortality simply lets populations soar into famine and disease pandemic territory.

    It took the West well over a thousand years to develop high life expectancy low fertility societies. We cannot impose those on Africa without being accused of racism and neocolonialism.

    Africa is improving, slowly. At its own pace.

    You cannot on the one hand throw up your hands in horror at countries whose attitudes are radically different to life than yours, and at the same time preach the liberal gospel of allowing cultural diversity and decrying colonialism which seeks to impose social change.

    That is the fundamental dilemma the Left are in: They seek to force morality via givernment and centralised agencies whilst supporting the right so individual freedom to be culturally different.

    The very concept of multiculturalism is the very principle on which their ‘white racism’ is based.

    • “Africa limits population by high mortality rates. Unless you educate first, reducing mortality simply lets populations soar into famine and disease pandemic territory. It took the West well over a thousand years to develop high life expectancy low fertility societies. We cannot impose those on Africa without being accused of racism and neocolonialism.”

      Emmanuel Macron – is that you?

      • Actually it has a bigger cultural problem of the greed of its political and industrial leaders which makes our politicians look modest and caring.

    • “Culturally different” What a quaint term for abuse of children and enslavement of a population.

      • Having to work for living means you are a slave.
        Must be nice to go through life never having to work.

      • Having to work at the ONLY job available that is really awful and you can never progress is slavery.

      • Sheri

        Ok, waive your magic wand and end it today. HOW ARE THEY GOING TO GET FED TOMORROW?

        How many calories in virtue-signaling?

      • Sheri, instead of being smug and self righteous, why don’t you go there and start providing other jobs.

  19. What idiotic Leftists don’t understand is that CAPITALISM is what ended: slavery, child labor, 7-day work weeks, deplorable and dangerous work environments, low wages, lack of infrastructure, increased technological advances, depressing living standards, government tyranny, majority of people living in abject poverty, etc.,

    Leftist ideology has severely limited economic and social development and curtailed living standards.

    We should have have societies with: warp drive, autonomous and flying cars, incredible life styles, no cancer, 100+ year longevity rates, etc. but Leftism has greatly curtailed these advancements.

    Africa is particularly hard hit because of their almost universal adoption of Socialism. The most advanced economy in Africa is Mauritius because it has the freest economy in all of Africa by far.

    If African countries want to pull themselves out of poverty, just adopt free-market capitalism and toss centrally-controlled Socialism in the trash bin of history where it belongs.

      • Opoiods relieve pain but are highly addictive. Now we’re spending billions trying to fix that. Same for cannabis—if it cures cancers (which I doubt it does) or works medically, there is a way to extract the active ingredient. I find most do not want that—they want to get high. Just because something sometimes helps doesn’t eliminate the problems with it.

  20. This stuff is in every mobile phone… every rechargeable battery used in your vacuum, cordless drill, etc…

    Using this to attack renewable energy exclusively is frankly propaganda.

    Come back when you’ve given up ALL your modern electronics, then you can have a pop at renewables.

    (and this has been going on for a decade, longer…)

    • To large degree, the western lifestyle is built on the back of 3rd world oppression.

      • It’s the 3rd World’s reluctance to adopt free-market principles and Western Civilizations’ ideals of virtue, individual rights (not collective), empiricism, private property rights, limited governments and due process that has doomed the 3rd World.

        Few corporations are willing to invest in the 3rd Wold as many times 3rd World dictators simply confiscate privately property. Corruption and bribes essential to get anything done in the 3rd World also greatly increases legal liabilities.

        The 3rd World did this to themselves. I’m sick an tired of deluded and ignorant Leftists’ virtue signaling and guilt trips.

        The ONLY way for 3rd World countries to crawl out of abject poverty is by adopting free-market capitalism and removing Socialist dictators from power by any means necessary and replacing them with limited-government Constitutional Republics.

      • It’s hard for the 3rd world to adopt those things when the western world that espouses such works to subvert such by installing dictators and despots who allow the raping of their countries.

    • Back to Janice’s false dichotomy.
      Endanger children and pay below starvation wages – or give up your cell phone.

      There is enough profit in the total supply chain (Apple earnings anyone?) to enact a minimum increase in wages and fundamental safety in each of the steps.

      PLEASE STOP WITH THE “EITHER/OR”.

      (And Griff, because it has gone on for a decade or longer it is OK?!? Go back and reread Sheri’s posts.)

      • You know this for a fact?
        Are you so confident that forcing these mines to provide modern tools and safety equipment wouldn’t make their product more expensive than other mines and thus put them out of business?

    • Just because I am not perfect does not mean I should be a thousand times worse without feeling guilty in my book. Increasing demand will lower the already low health and safety standards to meet the much higher demands as clearly there will not be the mechanisation investment to avoid that.

    • Griff- “Using this to attack renewable energy exclusively is frankly propaganda.” Propaganda it is, and almost all the rhetoric about global warming/climate change/catastrophic climate change/anthropocene/….. is also frank propaganda.
      The premise here is that cobalt is needed in greatly increased amounts for electric cars, windmills, and hence increases the problems for the working poor in the Congo. Since electric cars provide no real benefits we end up with a net loss all around.

      The problem is that electric cars and windmills do nothing to reduce pollution and barely anything to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Electricity is not a “fuel” it is a method to get power from one place to another in a highly useful form. Electric cars do not reduce pollution or CO2, they simply produce it outside of overpopulated cities. Once ALL the systemic costs are factored in the amount of pollution from electric cars is barely reduced, if at all, compared to a hybrid vehicle getting 52km/liter.

      The ONLY situation where electric makes any sense is in the central urban districts of large cities. Pollution there is already too high from population density and moving some of it to less urban areas would have benefits overall if the people who have to put up with the power plant are OK with it.

  21. Janice Moore,

    May I suggest that you give up all the cobalt alloys you use daily? And any product that uses cobalt containing tools in their manufacture?

    You would find yourself living in hunter gatherer conditions.

  22. The Greenie reprimand “think of the children” would seem to apply. What the numerous concern trolls don’t seem to get here is the rank hypocrisy of Greenies and their “save-the-planet” “green energy”.

    • YES. It does not matter if there are children or not. The damage done by the mining itself is so very NOT green, but they can’t see it so they do not care. If their children had to mine the cobalt, you’d see the industry shut down.

    • Yep, save the planet for future children. Screw the children that are destroyed in the meantime.

      Centrally planned anything will never work best for everyone. Some will be screwed so the planners can achieve their goals. Read history, it always works this way. Liberals and greenies are fundamentally central planners attempting to achieve nirvana. LOL

      I think of the food all the money we are spending on renewables could buy in the here and now to give these children. Do you think moving beyond starvation might let these folks do better things? Could one of them be the next Einstein?

  23. I’d like to point out that cobalt is the main component of vitamin B12 which is an essential component to our health by keeping our blood and brain functions in working order. It has also been used since ancient times as a blue pigment ‘cobalt blue’ for ceramics. It is also used in magnets, catalysts and numerous industrial applications. More recently it is being used in superalloys which are an important component in spacecraft, military hardware, turbines and jet motors. However, its growing and now most important function is in lithium cobalt batteries where it provides more energy density and enables electric cars like Tesla’s to travel longer distances on a single electric charge. This is driving the recent upswing in demand for the metal.

    Cobalt is an extremely important metal for our future in transport and energy and although 60% is sourced from the DR Congo it also occurs mostly as co-product with copper or nickel deposits at other places (Australia, Canada, Brazil) where it is mined by modern methods and standards.

    Only about 15% of the cobalt mined in the DR Congo (arguably the poorest country on earth) is by local ‘family’ groups and this bought by merchants who sell it to the Chinese market. The mining is usually by hand picking and shallow excavations in old mine areas.

    The report is taken out of context. Without this income many poor people with no land to grow food would not survive. These people need to be helped to make their work safer and better paid. Stopping this trade will only add to their misery.

      • You are arguing that ANY activity is acceptable if it keeps people alive. The child sex trade keeps some children alive. Therefore, it is acceptable.

      • Sheri believes that it is better for whole families to starve to death rather than engage in work that she disapproves of.

      • Sheri, there is a world of difference between “acceptable” and the “least bad alternative”.
        Your continued attempts to lie about what the positions others are taking is destroying your credibility.

      • MarkW: Again, if you are for “whatever keeps the child alive—which you seem to be, then you’re for not using sanctions against North Korea and buying more and more products from countries with child labor to make their lives better. It’s the same argument. Support the child labor and oppression of people so they don’t die. Why are saying that is not your argument?

      • So Sheri has now accused just about everybody on the thread of being in favor of slavery, prostitution, toxic child labor, North Korea, as well as putting words in people’s mouths so she can righteously beat her own strawman to death…

        All Amusing stuff, except

        HOW ARE YOU GOING TO FEED THESE PEOPLE TOMORROW IN A COUNTRY WHERE MILLIONS HAVE RECENTLY STARVED TO DEATH, AND IT IS HIGHLY LIKELY (EVEN IF NOT 100% CERTAIN) PEOPLE WITHOUT JOBS WILL DIE

      • I’ve never been a fan of sanctions because the people being hurt are not the ones who have the power to change the situation.
        I’m a fan of doing things that will actually help the people involved.
        Eliminating what they view as their best option in a bad situation does not help them. No matter how virtuous it may make you feel.

  24. Clyde and gnomish have hijacked the thread to a debate on whether child labor is a heaven sent gift or an evil and away from the actual thread’s point—it is a LIE that green solutions are environmentally friendly. Whether 4 year olds are hauling rocks all day long or not, the mines are HORRIBLE for the environment. Yet the greens do not care in the least. It’s not in their back yard.

    • Funny, I thought that you were the one who brought up the topic of morality with your initial comment, “Yes, it is better to live as an abused slave than to die. Thus, slavery is justified. So say you.”, at the top of the thread!

      Yes, all mines are evil and should be banned. /sarc

      • Your sarcasm does not have thing to do with my comment. You clearly say any life is better than death. You repeat it over and over. I assume you mean it. Unless you left the sarc tag off.

      • As I said earlier, whether poor working conditions are worse than death is not your call to make.

      • An issue you do not really get into is decolonization in the 1950’s and early 1960’s. This was coincident with the Cold War, and the various actions done by both sides resulted in very few stable governments in the former colonies.
        As no one can be assured of property rights, very low capital investment methods of utilizing a resource are practical. This does include forced labor, which would be uneconomic if investors could be reasonably sure of not getting “expropriated” by either the local rebels or the (not really different) national government.
        Personally, I blame Soviet Marxists and their defacto allies on the Left, and unethical buyers in the West for this situation. Currently, the Chinese seem to be bribing the appropriate warlords, and using their own labor, which is arguably worse for the locals.

      • Sheri,

        You said, “You clearly say any life is better than death. You repeat it over and over. I assume you mean it.” Yes, I do mean it! Required to make the choice, there are few things that I would not do to keep myself and my child alive. Consider what you are saying as the alternative to my position!

        I WILL stop reading your offensive, cheap moralizing.

      • Well Sheri, it’s difficult (actually useless) to attempt adult discussion with a shrill, idealistic rant that, if implemented, will kill the very people you profess to care about. You conveniently ignore that or demand “proof” it will happen in a country where millions have recently died the same way.

        And that ignores all the twisted words you cram in everybody else mouth (“hijacked the thread to a debate on whether child labor is a heaven sent gift”) so you can virtuously refute them.

        Best case: you are willfully ignorant; worst case: you actually believe that crap.

    • Sheri has hijacked this thread by lying about what others have written.
      Nobody has said that child labor is a heaven sent gift. The argument is and always has been. Are there better opportunities available.
      Your cheap moralizing and continued lying about what others have said is a sad testament to your inability to behave rationally.

      • MarkW: Commenters have called this “working alongside your child” or “working alongside your parent”. Sounds to me like they approve and are calling this something other than the least bad alternative.

        I will not apologize nor stop with the “cheap moralizing”. If you find it offensive, stop reading my comments.

      • Sheri

        Do you think the people in the mining picture would rather have their jobs or your cheap moralizing?

        Nobody disagrees that what is happening is horrible; the issue is how this happens & what to do about it.

        YOU CONTINUE TO AVOID THE ISSUE OF HOW YOU WOULD FEED THESE PEOPLE THE MINUTE YOU ELIMINATE THEIR JOBS; THERE ARE NO CALORIES IN VIRTUE SIGNALING.

    • RS,
      Polyacetylene: made from a feedstock of crude oil or natural gas. Aluminum and titanium catalysts are important, which requires mining.

  25. Dad lives in the bush, single parent, my guess is he is using the mine as a way to keep an eye on his kids while he works. All sorts of things can happen to little kids in the bush while no one trusted in around, lots of predators both 2 and 4 legged.

  26. Canada is a distant third in cobalt production like a lot of other metals it could produce more of. Like a lot of other ‘advanced’ countries and wealthy colonialists they would rather forgo more production and just let unregulated sources show up on the market to get the high value added premiums at later stages of use.

  27. Child miners and electric cars might be one association, but child miners would probably be a reality even without electric cars, and so the article seems to force a one-track association to make electric cars seem more horrible.

    It’s a neat trick, … to use the old “think of the children” ploy against alarmists, but, really, it’s sort of sinking to their level to make a point. Desperate people are opportunists — they take advantage of any opportunity available if it helps keep them alive, even alive struggling with physical forces and threats of harm to their health — it’s better than being outright dead.

  28. In 1973, as a young geologist student, I worked for 4 months in the Kilembe Mines in West Uganda where they mined copper and cobalt. The mine was closed a decade later. I am glad that a Chinese company has reopened the mine some two years ago giving an enormous economic boost to the region. The conditions in the mine were very good at the time, nothing like what is described above.

    http://www.miningweekly.com/article/chinese-breathe-life-back-into-ugandas-kilembe-coppercobalt-mine-2015-02-06/rep_id:3650

  29. “When Chandrasekhar Reddy traveled to northeastern India in 2011, the director was looking for material for a film on forests in the region famed for its misty hills and waterfalls.

    Instead, he found children as young as five working in coal mines.”

  30. THis may be the dumbest argument against electric cars ever made. Blaming them for cobalt mining practices. I might point out that the vast majority of lithium batteries are being used NOT to power the few electric cars on our streets, but to power computers, cellphones, LED flashlights, etc etc.

  31. Agh, I just googled and found this:

    “President Museveni ordered for the termination of the $175m (about Shs620 billion) concession awarded to a Chinese company to revive Kilembe Mines amidst claims of top officials having pocketed bribes, is one of those things.”
    http://allafrica.com/stories/201707030587.html

    What a shame!

  32. Is is obvious to all that nobody cares what blacks do to blacks, either here or in Africa. Black lives just don’t matter. Harsh but true.
    When there was a black on black genocide in Rwanda, the international community did nothing. Well, hold on. They did do something. They declared there was no genocide going on. So, there’s that. When there was a Christian on Muslim “genocide” in Yugoslavia, NATO intervened after the UN intervention failed.
    What you say? It was in Europe so of course NATO intervened, but not in Africa? NATO intervened in Libya and destroyed that country’s govt.
    I bet if I were in college I would be suspended for writing the above words. Not because they are mean. But, because they are true.

  33. I hesitate to enter this fray, but I’m just arrogant enough to believe I can make some useful points others have overlooked.

    Much of what we need to keep industrial civilization going we get by extracting from the earth, otherwise known as mining. Humans have been mining for thousands of years and it has always been hazardous, to the point where slave and prison labor has often been used. For whatever geological reasons I don’t claim to understand, it appears cobalt has been distributed very selectively such that large amounts are concentrated in one country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Current lack of oversight by the DRC government or any other organization such as trade unions has left DRC citizens, including young children, practically no choice except to work dangerous mining jobs for very little pay.

    Is this right? Clearly not. Who is to blame?

    (1) greedy exploitative corporations. Buy low, sell high. If you can’t sell for more, then buy for less.

    (2) corrupt governments. Greedy corporations generally require cooperation from “flexible” government officials to really exploit local populations. If the cobalt companies are making a killing, some of it is being paid out in bribes.

    (3) consumers who buy products containing cobalt.

    The answer is all three.

    Who can fix it?

    Just addressing (3) doesn’t fix the problem as some of the previous comments have pointed out. And it may have the effect of pushing the very vulnerable populations you are trying to help over the line from subsistence to starvation.

    We have a limited ability to fix (2). Perhaps if the UN would stop condemning Israel every waking hour they would have some time and energy to address the many corrupt governments on this planet which exploit, abuse or neglect their own populations. But probably not, because I suspect DRC is one of the votes they’re counting on for their climate policies (not to mention resolutions condemning Israel).

    (1) we can do something about. Starbucks proudly advertises “ethically sourced” coffee beans, so you’ll feel better about spending $5 for a cup of it. Maybe someone in the fawning media covering “sustainability” issues could ask Elon Musk what he is doing to promote ethically sourced cobalt. Ditto for Apple, Samsung, Motorola and any other significant cobalt users. If necessary legislation can be enacted to put some teeth into it.

    If cobalt has a genuine value in the marketplace, there will be sufficient margin to set up a modern mining operation that can pay reasonable wages to adult miners so their young children can spend at least some of the day in school, while still making a profit. We’ve got no shortage of rich people advertising how environmentally virtuous they are; they should be willing to provide some of the capital investment so we don’t build the future perfect world on the bones of exploited third-world children.

    • I’ve always found it weird how some people condemn in corporations, those very behaviors that they take pride in.
      Unless you routinely go out of your way to only buy the most expensive products available, you don’t have much room to condemn corporations who don’t either.

    • PS: Starbucks is and will always be a luxury product bought by a tiny fraction of the population.

    • Alan, I also am reluctant to enter this discussion – typically one gets accused of crimes against humanity..

      Here are a few observations, based on my significant business experience on six continents:

      1. There is no Rule of Law in about 90% of the countries on Earth. Rule of Law is not even that good in the Western world, and is often under threat from scoundrels and imbeciles.

      2. In the developing world, you don’t get to choose between good and bad – you get to choose between bad and worse. In Tunisia during the hot war in Libya next door and Arab Spring, I tried to explain this to some influential friends. I said “Just because you throw out a ‘bad’ leader doesn’t mean you will get a better one.” In fact most or all the countries involved in Arab Spring got worse regimes than the ones they threw out.

      3. Taking Western practices into the third world often leads to unintended consequences. When I managed two armed invasions of my project in Kazakstan, I was under pressure to bring in the police and the army. I refused, and managed both situations myself with no bloodshed. The armed forces typically come in shooting in hostage situations, kill everyone, and let God sort them out.

      4. I am reluctant to offer any thoughts as to a solutions, because the situation in Congo is complex and I have not studied it. If the solution was easy, it would already be in place. How do you restore Rule of Law that left Africa fifty years ago? How else can these people earn a living? Are you going to make their lives better or worse with your proposed “solution”?

      Just because you toss about a bad system does not mean you will make a better one…

      Regards, Allan

      • “How do you restore Rule of Law that left Africa fifty years ago? ”

        Them dang colonials. Hate it when they leave. Hate it when they stay.

  34. Margaret Sanger is smiling in her grave knowing that human weeds are being eliminated while engaging in providing the ruling class their sense of righteousness. Sarc off.

  35. The historian Hugh Thomas in his book The Slave Trade quotes King Gelele of West Africa (Dahomey I believe), when confronted with the British Government’s desire to end the slave trade, he refused. He reportedly said,”If I cannot sell my captives taken in war, I must kill them, and surely the English would not like that?” Thomas, in the following paragraph in his book states, “It was an argument for which abolitionists were unprepared.” This occurred about the time of the US Civil War. I see from this article and the subsequent thread there hasn’t been much progress on that account. The waste of humanity continues in various forms to this day. It appears most of us are as unprepared to answer the question as to what to do with “surplus people” as the abolitionists of the 1860’s. Can all of us live the kind of life we believe we deserve? I certainly can’t answer that.

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