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Urge Companies to Be Leaders In Creating a Transparent Cobalt Trade in Congo

Cobalt has rapidly emerged as one of the world’s most in-demand minerals, given it is an essential component in the lithium-ion batteries that power booming industries with products such as electric vehicles, cell phones, and laptops. While Congo is home to a wealth of natural resource reserves, its command over the global supply of cobalt is unparalleled: an estimated 58 percent of global cobalt production originated in Congo in 2017. But a wide spectrum of corruption in the cobalt trade combined with abuses at and around cobalt mine sites and links to state-sanctioned violence and grand corruption forms a crucial pillar in Congo’s violent kleptocratic system. As one cobalt miner in Kolwezi city told Enough Project researchers earlier this year, “Following the dirty money and making sure it’s frozen must be part of the strategy to help clean up the sector.”

Cobalt is a critical material for the renewable energy technologies used to power electric vehicles and greener batteries for cell phones and laptops. The mineral is mined on both large-scale and artisanal concessions in Congo, each presenting its own set of challenges. Large-scale mining lacks transparency in several key areas of contracting, subcontracting, and joint venture disclosure practices. Artisanal mining in some cobalt mining areas has links to illegal and corrupt involvement of armed military actors, nontransparent documentation of production and export data, and human rights abuses such as child labor and hazardous working conditions. Connections back to President Joseph Kabila and his regime emerge in both artisanal and industrial mining.   

If managed transparently and responsibly, cobalt revenues could help alleviate poverty in Congo and be a backbone for development. Companies should actively incorporate transparency initiatives into their sourcing protocols in order to address the corruption and human rights abuses linked to cobalt production.

Take Action Now: Sign these two petitions to companies in the automotive and consumer electronics industries, asking them to become leaders in creating a transparent cobalt trade in Congo. The Enough Project will deliver the petitions to company representatives.

Click to sign the petitions: