A Harvard visiting professor and modern slavery activist exposed the “ghastly” Congo cobalt mining industry in a recent episode of “The Joe Rogan Experience” that went viral. The video has already amassed over a million views and counting.
Siddharth Kara, author of “Cobalt Red: How The Blood of The Congo Powers Our Lives,” told podcast host Joe Rogan that there is no such thing as “clean cobalt.”
“That’s all marketing,” Kara said.
Kara told Rogan that the level of “suffering” of the Congolese who worked in the cobalt mines was staggering.
Asked by Rogan if there were any cobalt mines in the Congo that did not depend on “child labor” or “slavery”, the visiting Harvard professor told him there were none.
“I’ve never seen one and I’ve been to almost every major industrial cobalt mine” in the country, Kara said.
One of the reasons for this is that the cobalt demand is exceptionally high: “Cobalt is found in every rechargeable lithium battery made in the world today,” he explained.
As a result, it’s hard to think of a piece of technology that doesn’t rely on cobalt to work, Kara said. “Every smartphone, every tablet, every laptop, and most importantly, every electric vehicle” needs the mineral.
“We cannot function day to day without cobalt, and three quarters of the supply comes from the Congo,” he added. “And it is mined in appalling, heartbreaking and dangerous conditions.”
But “in general, the world doesn’t know what’s going on” in Congo, Kara said.
“I don’t think people are aware of how horrible it is,” Rogan agreed.
The Biden administration recently signed an agreement with the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zambia to strengthen green energy supply chain, despite the DRC’s documented problems with child labor.
Cobalt initially “took off because it was used in lithium-ion batteries to maximize their charge and stability,” Kara explained. “And it just so happens that the Congo has more cobalt than the rest of the planet combined,” she added.
As a result, the Congo, a country of approximately 90 million people, became the center of a geopolitical conflict over valuable minerals. “Before anyone knew what was happening, [the] chinese government [and] Chinese mining companies took control of almost all the big mines and the local population was displaced,” Kara said. Subsequently, the Congolese are “under duress.”
He continued: “They dig in absolutely subhuman and heartbreaking conditions for a dollar a day, feeding cobalt up the supply chain into every phone, every tablet and especially electric cars.”
British rapper Zuby recommended that his almost a million followers watch the interview
“This latest Joe Rogan Experience podcast is heavy,” he wrote. “If you have a smartphone or electric vehicle (that’s 100% yours), I highly recommend giving it a listen.”
Some, if not all, of the world’s famous technology and energy companies are implicated in the humanitarian crisis, Kara said.
“This is the bottom of the supply chain for your iPhone, for your Tesla, for your Samsung,” he said.
Fox News’ Thomas Catenacci contributed to this report.