Congo’s miners dying in hell tunnels to power your mobile

Patrick, a 26-year-old Congolese miner, uses hand tools to dig for cobalt, which is used in smartphones and electric car batteries. Much of the cobalt is sold to China, which refines 80 per cent of the world supply

Solange Kanena sits on her broken orange sofa, heavily pregnant, resting. Looking around her three-room shack, she wonders how she will feed her eight children. Her husband died in a mining accident 10 days ago.

She has never held an iPhone and has no idea what an electric car is. But when the deep, muddy tunnel collapsed on her husband, he was digging for a commodity that is critical to the batteries of both: cobalt.

Last year about 70% of the world’s supply came from the Democratic Republic of Congo, one of the poorest, most violent and corrupt places on Earth. Much of its cobalt comes from around this town.

“Without DR Congo there is no electric car industry and no green revolution,” said Anneke…

By Christina Lamb