DRC produces roughly two thirds of the world's cobalt, whose price has soared by 180% in the past three years. On paper, this would mean that DRC is sitting on a gold mine, but the reality is slightly different. On the one hand, experts talk about supply shortage. But even more disturbing is the link between cobalt mining and child labor.
Children like Lukasa, 15, who begins his 12-hour shift at the mine at 5 a.m. every day. He walks for two hours to the mining site, before spending eight hours mining this grayish metal that keeps our phones (and lives) moving. On a good day, he makes $9. Little does he know about the multibillion-dollar scramble underway.
The demand for cobalt has only just begun. Cobalt is also crucial for the global transition to renewables. Each electric car will need over 1,000 times the amount of cobalt a smartphone does.
Companies and NGOs are far from finding a solution that would end child labor without taking away from thousands of families their only source of income. Some argue thatblockchain could be the solution.