The Globe and Mail reports in its Thursday, Oct. 10, edition that lithium-ion batteries contain cobalt, the material needed to power our new technologies. The Globe's guest columnist Martin Grosskopf writes that these batteries have earned the "blood batteries" moniker because they are sometimes mined by children and other locals in unsafe conditions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The misery in which these so-called artisanal miners work, and their rising death toll, has thrust cobalt mining in the Congo into the international spotlight. Increasingly, companies such as Apple and Daimler, eager to clean up their supply chains, are also demanding ethical standards be enacted covering all cobalt mining in the Congo. However, while there are initiatives in the works, rigorous and broadly accepted standards are still a way off.
The issue hit close to home in the summer when dozens of miners were killed on the property of Katanga Mining, raising concerns about the grave risks artisanal miners take to scour tailings and waste rock in search of valuable metals. While these miners were working illegally on the property, ensuring appropriate safety conditions remains a challenge even for the mining giants.
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