All of our devices have one thing in common, the origins of a key component called Cobalt. This metal which resides in Africa is used by nearly every major tech company to power smartphones, tablets and even cars. So just how charged up are these companies?
Why This Matters: Roughly 60% of global Cobalt production takes place in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Cobalt prices increased 129% in 2017, finishing the year at $75,500. Due in large part to automakers racing to produce electric vehicles. Analysts project prices to top $90,000 this year. The Congolese government recently increased its tax on Cobalt exports by 50% and is considering labeling the mineral a strategic resource which would increase the royalty for Cobalt from 2% to 10%.
Apple is one of the world’s largest end users of cobalt primarily for its iPhone production. However, Tesla is encroaching on its territory with the ramp up of its Model 3 electric vehicle and Gigafactory. A smartphone uses about eight grams of refined cobalt whereas a battery for an electric car requires over 1,000 times more. Darton Commodities is predicting Cobalt use in batteries is going to jump from 50,000 tons in 2016 to more than 320,000 tons by the year 2030.
Situational Awareness: The United Nations Children’s Fund estimates 40,000 Congolese children work in artisanal Cobalt mines. Apple and Tesla have taken steps to ensure the Cobalt in their batteries did not get there as a result of child labor. In all of this, it is important to ensure children involved in this mining have alternatives for education and economic opportunities. That should be a bigger priority than us being able to post selfies.
CBx Vibe: “Nu Africa”, CyHi the Prince