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China’s Cobalt Mining Giant in the DR Congo is in Trouble (Again)

A child breaks rocks extracted from a cobalt mining at a copper mine quarry and cobalt pit in Lubumbashi on May 23, 2016. The price of copper has fallen heavily, directly impacting workers in the town. JUNIOR KANNAH / AFP

The phone many of you are using to read this article and all those electric vehicles on the roads rely on cobalt, a strategically vital metal that comes from one of the saddest places on earth in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Most consumers have no idea that the supply chain for this important element is riddled with human rights violations, including the widespread use of children as miners.

Chinese companies, one large one, in particular, are at the center of this trade in the DRC where they occupy a strategically important broker role between the miners who supply the cobalt and the global electronics/automotive companies who depend on it.

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